Changsha is a city famous for its food and snacks in my opinion, so if not my father who told me not to forget visiting this ancient academy (university in today's word), I would have probably spent all my time in the city eating and eating.
Yuelu Academy is apparently one of the four most prestigious academies in China. For more than 1000 years it has been used for leaning and cultural activities. Nowadays it belongs to Hunan University. You can do some academic research and get a degree here. Being pretty bad at traditional Chinese literature, I don't think I could ever study here though. The visit to this garden-like academy was great, definitely worth an hour or two to explore the architecture, the garden, the history and how students are studying there.
A glance at the academy. It is huge and hidden among Yuelu Mountain in Changsha. Tourism is quite developed here, and there were cable cars and bus to get to the top. It wasn't a long hike either.
One reason I love to travel in China during the winter (except for the lunar new year) is to avoid the crazy crowds in the summer holidays. Yuelu Academy is probably one of the few historical sites in China where peace and tranquillity can still be found, and the original aesthetic of the gardens can still be enjoyed.
I really enjoyed how green this place is, the bamboos, trees, etc. The garden was a serene place to walk through. You can feel how the ancient scholars study XD
Behind me it was the main library of the academy, but it was closed when I visited it.
Inside the academy you can find a lovely Confucius temple and a museum which tells the history of learning and universities in China. Picture above depicts the academy in Qing dynasty.