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Travel Guide
Travel Guide

The Summer Palace had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment by the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Originally called the Garden of Clear Ripples located 12 km west of Beijing City. This is the largest ancient preserved garden in China and a former summer retreat for Emperors , it includes more than 100 ancient style pavilions, mansions, towers, halls, temples, bridges and an enormous clear water lake.

The original Palace could not elude the rampages of the allied forces of Great Britain and France and was destroyed by fire in 1860. However, the Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years in her favorite retreat, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, the palace was restored to the scale and design it is today and opened to the public.

Kunming Lake


The Summer Palace is an outstanding example of classical Chinese garden landscaping, consists of the Longevity Hill (59 meters high) and Kunming Lake with a total area of 290 hectares, three quarters of which is water. Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens exquisitely so that visitors would see marvelous views.

The Summer Palace can be divided into four parts: the court area, front-hill area, front-lake area, and rear-hill and back-lake area.
 

Front-Hill Area is the most magnificent area in the Summer Palace with the most constructions. Its layout is quite distinctive because of the central axis from the yard of Kunming Lake to the hilltop, on which important buildings are positioned including Gate of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Moral Glory, Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, etc.
 

Suzhou Market Street

Although the constructions are fewer in the Rear-Hill and Back-Lake Area, it has a unique landscape, with dense green trees, and winding paths. Visitors can feel a rare tranquility, and elegance. This area includes scenic spots such as Garden of Harmonious Interest and Suzhou Market Street.

Court Area is where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu met officials, conducted state affairs and rested. Entering the East Palace Gate, visitors may see the main palace buildings: the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity served as the office of the Emperor, the Hall of Jade Ripples where Guangxu lived, the Hall of Joyful Longevity, Cixi's residence, the Hall of Virtue and Harmony where Cixi was entertained.
 

Jade-Belt Bridge

Front Lake Area covering a larger part of the Summer Palace, opens up the vista of the lake. In this comfortable area there are the Eastern and Western Banks, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Nanhu Island, and so on. On the western bank float six distinct bridges amongst which the Jade-Belt Bridge is the most beautiful.
 

Long Corridor

The Summer Palace is famous both for its general design and its individual structures. For instance, the Long Corridor (Changlang) is one of the longest of its kind in Chinese history, it is a covered promenade running for 728 m along the northern shore of Kunming Lake and connecting with a row of buildings at the foot of Longevity Hill. Its crossbeams, ceiling roof panels, and pillars are painted with more than 10,000 scenes from Chinese geography, history, literature, and myth, making this a promenade into a picture encyclopedia of China. The paintings are crude but bright, and the Long Corridor is exceptionally charming. Built in 1750 (and rebuilt and restored many times since), the Long Corridor consists of 273 crossbeam sections and four pavilions that lead to cafes, boat docks, or sites on Longevity Hill.
 

Marble Boat

Besides the Palace Theatre (Daxilou) is one of the three largest palace theaters in China; the Marble Boat is often used as a poetic symbol of ancient China. There is also a large screen decorated with a nine-dragon design symbolizing imperial power and with the Chinese character for "longevity" in 226 types of calligraphy in the middle of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. top
 

Long Corridor's Paintings