Covering 2.3 ha., the Lingering Garden, one of the four most famous gardens in China, was constructed in the 11th year of the reign of Wanli under the Ming Dynasty (1593 A.D.). It is separated into the middle, eastern, northern and western parts. The eastern part features happy grouping of fancy building and garden courts; the middle part the marvelous landscape garden with age-old trees; the western part the delights of wilderness of woody hills, and the northern part idyllic scenes of humble huts enclosed with bamboo fences. The Lingering Garden is celebrated for its artistic way of dealing with the spaces between various kinds of architectural forms and garden courts, which have successfully created the feeling of depth. On March 4, 1961, the Lingering Garden was listed by the State Council from the very first as the cultural relic of national importance. In 1997, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNCESO. In 2003, it was listed as national attraction of Grade AAAA.
The Lingering Garden boasts a good number of very attractive limestone peaks from Lake Tai with grotesque shapes. An artificial hill made of rocks from Taihu Lake is also always a major component of Suzhou gardens. The 6.5-meter-high Cloud-Capped Peak in this garden, which is the highest of its kind found in Suzhou's classic gardens, is believed to have been a collection from Northern Song Dynasty. Weighing about five tons, the limestone is supposed to have been carried here from the Taihu Lake, 40 km away. The number of steles in the Lingering Garden has never been surpassed by any other garden in Suzhou. Masterfully inscribed with the works of over 100 calligraphers in the Jin, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, they illustrate the evolution of Chinese calligraphy during the past 1,000 years.