Summer Palace is the biggest and best-preserved royal garden
in China, and is located approximately fifteen kilometres
history of the Summer Palace spans over eight hundred years.
Before the Summer Palace, the same location was used
early in the Jin dynasty, for an imperial palace called
Golden Hill Palace. In
1750, Emperor Qian Long of the Qing dynasty constructed the
Garden of Clear Ripples, using 4.48 million taels of silver
on the spot of Golden Hill Palace. He
renamed the spot, Longevity Hill, in celebration of his
Most of the palace and gardens were destroyed during the
opium wars. In 1888, the Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled
funds from the Imperial Navy and restored the garden.
The construction of this new garden took ten years,
and after its completion, it was given the new name of
Yiheyuan (Garden of Peace and Harmony).
In 1900, the eight powers plundered the garden once
more, only this time; nearly all of the large temples and
halls at the back of Longevity Hill were ruined, leaving
only one to survive. It
was only when Cixi returned to Beijing as a fugitive in 1903
that restoration truly began again.
Consisting primarily of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, the
Summer Palace of today spans 294 hectares, three quarters of
which is water. The
garden can be thought of as having three zones:
administration, residential and scenic.
The administration area is comprised primarily of the
Halls of Benevolence and Longevity, and is where Cixi
arranged her affairs of state and received officials.
The residential area is made up of the Hall of Jade
Billows, the Garden of Virtue and Harmony, and the Hall of
Joyful Longevity. The
Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are what comprise the scenic
are two entrances to the Summer Palace: the East Palace gate
and the North Palace Gate.
It is the East Palace Gate that is used by the
majority of visitors to the Summer Palace.
the Summer Palace is pretty much the same palace, after
having been rebuilt in 1903.
The admission ticket to the garden is reasonable
enough that most people can now afford it, so that this old
imperial garden can become the perfect location for locals
to retreat during the hot Beijing summers.
Each one of the man-made hills, halls, pavilions and
temples, which include both Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill,
combine pleasantly no matter their different styles.
The garden is comprised of many different features of
gardens in both Northern and Southern China, giving the
Summer Palace the reputation as being the soul of Chinese