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Fragrant Hill Park

Red Maple Leaves on Xiangshan

History of Fragrant Hill Park

The Xiangshan (Fragrant Hill) Park, about 25 kilometers from downtown, is located on the eastern side of the Western Hills. It covers an area of 160 hectares, and its highest peak is 557 meters high. Trees heap up rich piles of foliage in the place of rural repose and sheltered quiet, as well as crisscrossed by running streams. As early as the Jin Dynasty, emperors built palaces on their outings here. The emperors of successive dynasties - Yuan, Ming and Qing - rebuilt and enlarged it. Construction of gardens on Xiangshan had its heydays during the Qing Emperor Qianlong's reign. In 1745, or the 10th year of his reign, Qianlong ordered extensive renovation of Fragrant Hill Park, and a total of 28 scenes of captivating were built. This was none other than the Jingyiyuan(Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure), one of "Three Hills and Five Gardens" at the time in Beijing.

The picturesque imperial garden Fragrant Hill Park, however, was twice destroyed in 1860 by the Anglo - French Allied Army and in 1900 by the Eight - Power Allied Force. The destruction was so serious that the reconstruction efforts made in the later years were never able to restore its original scale and splendor. After the founding of New China, the place was refurbished, renamed Xiangshan Park and opened to the public. The major tourist spots of historical and cultural interests include the Stele of Xishan Qingxue (literally, the Sunny Western Hills after Snow), one of the "Eight Great Views of Yanjing", Jianxinzhai (Studio of Introspection), Zhaomiao (Luminous Temple, or Sakyamuni Temple), Shuang Qing (Double Clear Springs) Villa, and Ruins of Xiangshansi (Temple of Fragrant Hill).

Main Buildings in Fragrant Hill Park

The Jianxinzhai in Fragrant Hill Park, first built during the reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing, is a court featured the quaint charms of those foune in the south of China. In the enclosure there is a larqe semicircular pool, surrounded on three sides by Xiangshan Coverd with Red Leavescovered galleries. The core structure, Jianxinzhai, was the place Emperor Qianlong read and held imperial banquets to feast and honor the officials.The Zhaomiao was built in 1780,the 45th year of Qianlong's reign,to be used as a residence for the Sixth Panchen Lama when he visited Beijing. It contains an archway, a red terrace and a glazed pagoda now. In 1917, when Xiong Xiling, a high official, founded a bureau here, he constructed a beautiful villa and named it Shuang Qing, because the site was one of 28 scenes of Jingyiyuan and there was a rock was inscribed with the two Chinese characters "Shuang Qing" (literally, Double Clear Springs), in the handwriting of Qing Emperor Qianlong. In March 1 949, when the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China moved from Xibaipo in Pingshan County, Hebei Province, to Beijing, the late Chairman Mao Zedong lived and worked here, until November 1949, when he moved to Zhongnanhai.

The Xianglufeng (Incense Burner Peak) in Fragrant Hill Park is the summit of the Fragrant Hills, with a height of 557 meters. It looks like an incense burner at a distance, hence the name. Though it is not very tall by all standards, it seems to be precarious due to the plunging ravines on both sides, which gains it a nickname "Ghost Worrying Peak". The Park has a dense forest with 260,000 trees of various species, including 5,800 Grade A and B ancient trees. Ninety percent of the hills are covered by trees. The maple leaves in golden autumn has attracted numerous visitors since the Jin Dynasty. Xuanqiulin (Gorgeous Forest in Autumn), one of Qianlong's 28 scenes, indicates it.

 

Fragrant Hill Park Tour

Fragrant Hill Park looks its seasonal best in September and October, when the sky is high and the air brisk and the entire hill is covered with red leaves. When having a Beijing tour in autumn, travelers should not miss the chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery in Xiangshan Park.