Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Location: 6 mi (10 km) Northwest of Bejing

Tel. (010) 6288 1144

Subway Xizhi Men than take Bus 32

Open: 8:30am- 5 pm daily


Description of the Summer Palace

The Summer Imperial Palace is the summer residence of the emperors of the Qing Empire on the outskirts of Beijing. The park with more than 3,000 buildings is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. To the west until 1860 were the extensive Imperial Gardens.

The creation of the "Garden of Pure Ripples" began in 1750 by order of Emperor Qianlong with the construction of a man-made lake Kunming (the prototype is Dianchi). From the land dug during the construction of the lake, the Hill of Longevity was erected, on top of which several Buddhist temples were built.

Along the coast is the Long Corridor, listed in the Guinness Book of Records as "the world's longest painted corridor" - 728 meters. About 8 thousand paintings hang on the walls. Around are bronze figures of dragons and lions - symbols of imperial power. Here, on the shore, stands the famous Marble Boat, where Empress Cixi loved to dine, having spent money collected for the construction of the Chinese navy - 30 million liang of silver (937,500 kg) on the creation of the Summer Palace.

The park has been rebuilt several times, its total area is about 290 hectares. Located in the northern part of the park, Mount Wanshoushan ("Mountain of Longevity") occupies a quarter of this area, and Kunming Lake, lying to the south of the mountain, approximately three-quarters.



Emperor Qianlong had it built in 1751-1764 for a total of 4.8 million silver taels as a gift for his mother's 60th birthday. The 297-hectare complex was created on the site of the former Garden of the Golden Water, which had existed since 1153 and was the preferred place for the imperial court to stay during the hot, humid summer months. The buildings are among the masterpieces of Chinese architecture, the park among the most impressive Chinese landscape gardens. Like the Old Summer Palace further east, the New Summer Palace fell victim to retaliatory action in the course of the Second Opium War and was destroyed on October 17th and 18th, 1860 by an Anglo-French invading army. The photographer Felice Beato, who accompanied the Anglo-French invasion army, documented the palace complexes photographically between October 6th and 16th, so that an idea of the complex at that time has been preserved.

However, unlike the Old Summer Palace, the New Summer Palace was rebuilt between 1885 and 1895 at the initiative of Empress Dowager Cixi and Chief of the Imperial Navy Prince Yi Xuan. It was financed by diversion of funds that were actually intended for the expansion of the fleet, which is still remembered today by the famous marble boat in the palace lake. In the course of the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the New Summer Palace was again destroyed by the British in retaliation and then rebuilt. After being closed in 1908 by Emperor Guangxu's widow, it was reopened in 1924. However, only a few could afford to visit because of the exorbitantly high entrance fees at the beginning. Today, the Summer Palace is a magnet for visitors and is one of the most visited sights in the Chinese capital.



As in most Chinese gardens and parks, buildings also have a high priority here. Along the shore of Kunming Lake and the chain of hills to the north of it are distributed i.a. following buildings:

the east gate,
The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, where Emperor Guangxu received foreign diplomats but was under the constant surveillance of Dowager Empress Cixi, the de facto most powerful person in the state, hidden behind a screen,
The Hall of Jade Waves,
The Hall of Aroma where Guangxu's consort Longyu resided,
The Garden of Virtue and Harmony with the 21 meter high theater building and the Hall of Exhilaration,
The Hall of Joy and Longevity,
The hall where one listens to the orioles, formerly an opera theater,
the cloud-dispersing hall,
The 728 m long walkway,
The Pavilion of Buddhist Fragrance,
The Precious Clouds Pavilion, which looks like a wooden structure but is made entirely of bronze and weighs 200 tons,
The Pavilion of the Four Great Continents,
The Marble Ship, a water-built vantage point for viewing Kunming Lake,
The More Treasures Pagoda,
The Seventeen Arch Bridge,
the jade ribbon bridge,
The Garden of Harmony and Pleasure, a so-called garden within a garden, which, unlike the other parts of the park, is designed in the southern Chinese style.
The replica of a canal with shops from Suzhou

The Hall of Jade Waves
In the Hall of the Jade Waves (Yulan Tang, 玉澜堂, Yùlántáng, dt. Hall of the Jade-colored Waves) were the living quarters of the Emperor Guangxu, where he was imprisoned by Cixi in the course of the Hundred Days Reform in 1898 . Guangxu did his daily work in the central room of the hall. This 'office' was furnished, among other things, with a throne and a desk made of red sandalwood. There were numerous panes of glass decorated with landscape paintings and fans of emerald feathers - symbols of royal power. Northwest of it was the Emperor's bedchamber.

The Hall of Joy and Longevity
The Hall of Joy and Longevity (Leshou Tang, 乐寿堂, Lèshòutáng) was built in 1750 under Emperor Qianlong. It originally had two floors, but the building was burned down by Anglo-French troops in 1860 during Emperor Xianfeng's reign. In 1886, the hall was built in its present form with one floor and served as the private chambers of Empress Dowager Cixi.

The Walkway
The 728 m long walkway (Chang Lang, 长廊, chángláng) was built along the shore of Kunming Lake. It consists of 273 pairs of connected columns and several pavilions, a unique combination of covered walkway and art gallery, whose architraves are decorated with more than 8000 paintings. The motifs show historical and mythological scenes or landscape, bird and flower motifs. The corridor begins in the east with the Gate of the Moon's Invitation (pinyin yaoyue) and ends in the west at the Old Man's Pavilion (Shizhang Ting, 石丈亭, Shízhàngtíng), connecting all the buildings along Longevity Mountain (Wanshou Shan, 万寿山 , Wànshòushān) through gates and pavilions to each other. The Cloud Dispersing Hall (Paiyun Dian, 排云殿, Páiyúndiàn) forms the center of the corridor, which at this point makes a semicircular arc around the hall.