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Built for the first time in 1750, the Summer Palace of Beijing would be destroyed in 1860 and then restored in 1886 on its original foundations. The palace is considered a Chinese masterpiece, especially because of the landscaping and design of its garden. The palace complex comprises of pavilions, temples, bridges, palaces, halls etc. It is a complete ensemble of a Chinese royal residence.

Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing you gotta go here

Built for the first time in 1750, the Summer Palace of Beijing would be destroyed in 1860 and then restored in 1886 on its original foundations. The palace is considered a Chinese masterpiece, especially because of the landscaping and design of its garden. The palace complex comprises of pavilions, temples, bridges, palaces, halls etc. It is a complete ensemble of a Chinese royal residence.

The following is the chronology of how the palace was built:

  1. From 1750 to 1764, Qing Emperor Qianglong built the Garden of Clear Ripples
  2. From 1856 to 1869, the Second Opium War raged and the palace was one of its casualties
  3. From 1856 to 1895, the palace was reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu who renamed it the Summer Palace. It was to be used by the Empress Dowager Cixi
  4. In 1900, the palace was destroyed again during the suppression of the Boxer uprising
  5. In 1902, the palace was restored
  6. In 1924, it became a public park

In total, the summer palace sits on 2.97 square kilometers piece of land, three quarters of which is covered by water. The main framework of the palace comprises of the Hill of Longevity, and the Kunming Lake. This main framework is then supplemented by a host of manmade structures. Like the imperial garden it is, the palace puts as much grandiose as possible into the architectural design. It is divided into 3 areas namely: Recreation and sightseeing area; the political and administrative activities area; and the residential Area.

The political area

To access the political area, you will need to use the East Palace Gate. The political Area features the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity

The residential area

This area comprises of The Hall of Happiness in Longevity which was the palace of Cixi; the Hall of Jade Ripples which was used by Guangxu and his empress; and the Hall of Yiyun which was used by the emperor’s concubines. The three buildings are built in such a way that they will overlook the lake. They are interconnected with each other through roofed corridors and access the Great Stage via a Long corridor that features over 10,000 paintings.

The Recreational Area

90% of the total area of the summer Palace’s area is occupied by the sightseeing and recreational area. In fact, the northern side of the Hill of Longevity is a tranquil area where you can do your meditation without disturbance.

This park is one of the most visited places in Beijing, and by extension in China. If you are ever in People’s Republic of China, then make sure you spend a day or two in the park…it is the best place in China to relax and unwind.

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