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Ruins of Yuanmingyuan Park

An Aerial Photograph of the YuanmingyuanYuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfection and Brightness), located on the northwestern suburbs of Beijing, was one of the five most famous gardens built during the Qing Dynasty. It was extolled as the "Garden of All Gardens" and "Versailles of the Orient" in its heydays. Originally built in 1709, or the 48th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi, Yuanmingyuan was an imperial summer resort painstakingly built and repeatedly expanded under the personal supervision of five emperors of the dynasty.



Yuanmingyuan had an area of 350 hectares, 40 per cent of which was covered by water, and it was a collective name of Yuanmingyuan, Changchunyuan (Garden of Eternal Spring)and Wanchunyuan(Garden of Everlasting Spring). It was a vast landscaped garden at once grand in scale and enchanting in scenery, and once boasted the largest royal garden in the world with its more than 140 scenic attractions. In Yuanmingyuan, there were also some two hundred buildings - halls, towers, terraces, pavilions, corridors, pagodas, bridges etc. - of different sizes and styles. All these, the green hills, exquisite architectures, and limpid waters, were laid out with picturesque appeal, and decorated with thriving trees and beautiful flowers, making Yuanmingyuan a landscaping and horticultural miracle.

The construction of Yuanmingyuan embodied the fine traditions of Chinese gardening and the refined skills of Chinese art and architecture. And, what is more, many of the China's famous scenic spots were imitated in the garden. Ruins of Dashuifa in YuanmingyuanDuring his many tours of the country, Emperor Qianlong made it a point to have pictures of famous gardens and scenes drawn so that he could have replicas built in Beijing. Most famous of these, for instance, were the ten most beautiful sights at the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

The Style of Yuanmingyuan

Yuanmingyuan is differed from other classical gardens in China in that its typical Chinese scenery was mingled with Western architecture. The complex of Western-style buildings in the northeastern corner of the garden was designed by Girseppe Castiglione, Michel Benoist and other Western missionaries and constructed by Chinese artisans. Built mainly of finely engraved stone and in the style of the Renaissance, however, the buildings were decorated with glazed-tiled roofs, a typical Chinese architectural method. Most famous of these were Dashuifa (Grand Waterworks), Guanshuifa (Throne for Viewing the Water - works), and Wanhuazhen (Labyrinth of Ten Thousand Flowers).

In 1860, unfortunately, Anglo—French Allied Forces, ordered by Earl of Elgin, sacked and looted Yuanmingyuan, and burned it to the ground. A world-famous garden was thus reduced to ruins. In 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces made further damage to this garden. The invaders took away everything valuable. Its former beauty and glory no more, the entire garden lay in clusters of ruins and debris. Only does the stone and marble remains of fountains and columns hint at how fascinating the original must once have been.

Today the ruins of Yuanmingyuan have been put under key protection by both the district and municipal governments. A park was established at the site, and some of the original structures and scenic spots have been restored. Yuanmingyuan has become a place for people to relax and promenade in summer.


Yuanmingyuan Tour

With such a long history and horticultural miracle, Yuanmingyuan is the attraction should not miss during Beijing tour. Also very near to the Summer Palace, after the tour to Yuanmingyuan, tourists could also enjoy the beautiful scenery in the Summer Palace.