The Summer Palace — Imperial Garden of Perfect Combination of Natural Landscape and Artificial Buildings
What Is the Summer Palace?
The Summer Palace, also named Yihe Yuan in Beijing, was an imperial garden in the middle to late Qing Dynasty (1636 — 1912).
Today, it is a well-preserved masterpiece of the traditional Chinese imperial garden and one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It combines beautiful natural landscapes, extraordinary building complexes, and relics with great cultural values.
Tower of Buddhist Incense (or Foxiang Ge) and Other Building Complex on Front Hill of Longevity Mountain or Wan Shou Shan, Next to Kunming Lake.
What's the Difference Between the Old Summer Palace and Summer Palace?
The Old Summer Palace, also named Yuanming Yuan, 3.5 square kilometers large, was built in 1707 as a gift from Kangxi Emperor to his fourth son, who later expanded the garden after being enthroned as the Yongzheng Emperor.
Part of Court Painting "Forty Scenes of the Old Summer Palace" (Yuan Ming Yuan Si Shi Jing Tu Yong), by Artist Tang Dai and Shen Yuan in the Year 1744 — Bibliothèque Nationale de France
The Summer Palace, also named Yihe Yuan, 2.9 square kilometers large, was built in 1750 under the command of the Qianlong Emperor as a gift for his mother's 60th birthday.
In 1860, those two fabulous gardens were all robbed and burnt down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces during the Second Opium War.
A few decades later, only the Summer Palace was rebuilt under the command of the Guangxu Emperor.
Ruins of the Old Summer Palace
History and Development of the Summer Palace.
In 1750, Emperor Qianlong commanded to build a grand imperial garden as a birthday gift to his mother, completed in 1764.
In 1860, the Summer Palace, together with other fabulous royal gardens, was burned down and robbed by the Anglo-French Allied Forces.
From 1884 to 1895, the Summer Palace was rebuilt under the command of the Guangxu Emperor as the retirement residence for Empress Dowager Cixi.
Painting of Empress Dowager Cixi, By Hubert Vos in 1905 — Beijing Summer Palace
In 1900, the garden was destroyed again by Eight-Nation Alliance, and two years later was renovated by the Qing government.
However, many buildings and decorations were reduced and downsized because of financial issues.
Later, the Qing Dynasty ended in 1912, and this former imperial garden started to sell tickets and opened to the public in 1914.
Tower of Buddhist Incense or Foxiang Ge and Hall of Dispelling Clouds or Paiyun Dian and other Building Complex of Summer Palace.
Structural Designs Based on Legends.
The Summer Palace mainly includes a big lake, three islands, a tall hill, and thousands of exquisite buildings.
Great Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC — 87 BC) used to dig a lake named Kunming to train his navy; therefore, Emperor Qianlong named this lake Kunming as well, wishing to obtain exceptional military achievements.
Therefore, since Qin Shi Huang (259 BC — 210 BC), emperors would build three islands in a big lake in their royal palaces to imitate the wonderland.
Seventeen Arches Bridge to Nanhu Island, One of the Three Islands on the Kunming Lake.
Since this garden was built for the Qianlong Emperor's mother, he named the main mountain "longevity" as a beautiful wish.
Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake of the Beijing Summer Palace
Special Scenic Views of the Summer Palace.
Along Kunming Lake, there is the world's longest corridor. It is a 728-meter-long covered promenade with 273 sections and decorated with over 14,000 exquisite paintings, including historical stories, legends, landscapes, plants, etc.
Part of the Long Corridor, Chang Lang, of the Summer Palace.
Palaces for Royals to Work, Live, and Temples to Pray.
Bronze Statues and Flowers in Front of Hall of Benevolence and Longevity or Renshou Dian, An Important Administrative Building Complex of the Late Qing, Photo from Miaoxishuibuxing.
Baoyun Pavilion, the Biggest (7.5 meters tall) Existing Copper-made Pavilion in China.
Copper Made Baoyun Ge, the Black Pavilion in the Middle.
Suzhou Market Street
A royal commercial street imitated the southern style of Suzhou City, where the shop assistants were mainly imperial maids and eunuchs.
West Embankment of the Summer Palace
Jade Belt Bridge
Photos are from the Official Site of the Summer Palace.
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