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Summer Palace

 The Summer Palace with the lakeSummer Palace is the largest and best preserved imperial garden of the Qing Dynasty extant in Beijing, as well as a famous classical imperial garden. Covering an area of 290 hectares, the garden consists primarily of the Wanshoushan (Longevity Hill) and Kunming Lake. More than 30 classical structures are scattering on the hill and around the lake. The whole garden is a veritable museum of garden type architecture of different styles from different regions in China, and is definitely a gem in the Chinese art of garden construction. It is divided into three sections - the administrative area, the imperial residential area and the scenic area according to their functions.

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Wanshoushan In Summer Palace

The Wanshoushan in Summer Palace, a hillock less than 60 meters high originally known as Wengshan(Jar Rift), is a branch of the Xishan(Western Hills). The Kunming Lake, formed by springs flowing down from Yuquanshan(Jade Spring Hilt), was called Xihu (West Lake) for its location to the west of Beijing. The predecessor of the Summer Palace was a provisional palace of the Jin Dynasty built here. It was rebuilt several times during the Yuan and Ming dynasties and given different names. The initial construction of the Summer Palace began in 1750, commissioned by Emperor Qianlong as a gift for the birthday of his mother. Originally known as Qingyiyuan(Garden of Clear Ripples), it linked up the imperial gardens in the northwestern suburbs of Beijing, Long corridor in Summer Palaceand formed a complete garden system,  known as the "Three Hills and Five Gardens", namely, Changchunyuan (Garden of Everlasting Spring), Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfection and Brightness), Jingyiyuan (Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure) on Xiangshan (Fragrant Hili), Jingmingyuan (Garden of Tranquility and Brightness) on Yuquanshan (Jade Spring Hill), and Qingyiyuan on Wanshoushan.

Summer Palace

In 1860, the Anglo-French troops invaded Beijing, burnt the "Three Hills and Five Gardens" and plundered the places of their treasures. All wooden structures in Qingyiyuan were burnt to ashes, Later, in 1885, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled funds from the Imperial Navy and restored the garden. In 1888 when the project was about to be completed, Cixi renamed it Yiheyuan (Garden of Health and Peace), or the Summer Palace, as it is known to foreigners today. In 1900, the Summer Palace was ravaged once more by the Eight-Power Allied Forces. The invaders took away everything valuable and destroyed the buildings. The Qing court was, by this time, reduced to such financial shortage that it was unable to allocate any money for restoration. In 1902, Cixi had only the front of Wanshoushan and eastern part of the Summer Palace rebuilt.

After the 1911 Revolution, by which the Qing court was overthrown, the Summer Palace was resided by the former imperial family members for a period. In the 1924, it became a park. The garden was reborn after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. The government of New China has been funding to renovate most ramshackle buildings and scenic spots according to their original designs and to reappear their former grandeur. In 1998, the UNESCO inscribed the Summer Palace on the World Heritage List.

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Summer Palace Tour

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