There are 36 lakes named West Lake in China, but when most Chinese mention West Lake, it usually refers to the freshwater lake in Hangzhou.
West Lake is located in the west of Hangzhou City center. It was once called “Wulin Water” and “Qiantang Lake” but was named West Lake during the Song Dynasty (960 CE – 1279 CE). It is surrounded by mountains on three sides and has an area of 6.5 square kilometers (2.5 square miles). The circumference is around 15 kilometers (9.3 miles). The average depth of the West Lake is 1.55 meters, and the maximum depth reaches about 2.8 meters. The capacity is about 8,500,000 to 8,700,000 cubic meters.
The lake is divided by the causeways of Suti and Baiti into five areas which are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake, Little South Lake, and Yue Lake. The Outer West Lake is the largest. Gushan or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in West Lake. Three small man-made lakes, “Xiao Ying Zhou”, “Hu Xing Ting” and “Run Gong Dun”, lie in the center of the lake.
West Lake takes on a different appearance over the seasons, a phenomenon noticed as far back as the 13th Century. These famous views are known as the “Ten Views of West Lake,” some of the most popular attractions in all of Hangzhou.
Some of the Ten Views or Scenes include: