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Beijing Summer Palace|Yiheyuan Garden

Beijing Summer Palace is probably Asia’s largest and most sumptuous royal garden used exclusively to serve emperors together with their families and relatives. Today it is a world cultural and historic heritage site, playing host to Beijing residents and tourists. Summer Palace is located in the northwest suburb of Haidian District in Beijing City. Situated on Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, artisans of that time adopted some designing techniques and images from the gardens of southern Yangtze River and scenery of West Lake of Hangzhou. As well as being the largest, it is also the best-preserved royal garden in China. It is one of China’s four famous gardens. The others are Imperial Summer Resort in Chengde, Liu Garden (The Lingering Garden) and Zhuozheng Garden (The Humble Administrator Garden) in Suzhou. It has been repeatedly restored over the years after being extensively damaged in wars.
the view of Summer Palace in Beijing
The construction of Summer Palace was both condemned and acclaimed in different periods of Qing Dynasty. To celebrate her 60th birthday in the worsening Chinese external environment, Empress Dowager Ci Xi extensively rebuilt Summer Palace by embezzling the national defense funds, which were earmarked to purchase some warships and armaments to strengthen the power of the Chinese Navy. This was the main reason that brought about the downfall the Qing Dynasty. Today, putting history aside, many local people are proud of Beijing Summer Palace for its glorious architecture and enchanting beauty. Beijing Summer Palace is always one of the best destinations for traveling in Beijing.

Summer Palace absorbs the essence of traditional garden designing techniques. The basic structure reflects the layout of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. Through its surrounding environment of mountains and waters, it reveals the magnificence and vigor of China’s premier royal garden. Although it is man-made, it is seemingly designed by nature. All the corridors, halls, temples, and bridges are harmoniously integrated together. Its splendid and outstanding art design makes it an authority in China’s garden architecture, which is famous all over the world. Summer Palace is extremely large covering 2.97 square kilometers. It is chiefly composed of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. The waters cover three quarters of the total area. FoXiang Pavilion is centered among the other garden buildings.

The scenery of the garden can be divided into three parts. The elegance and holiness of Renshou Hall was used for politics. It was the main location for Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Emperor Guangxu to deal with domestic affairs and diplomatic activities. The courtyards, such as Leshoutang, Yunnantang and Yiyunguan, were used as Ci Xi, Emperor Guangxu and his concubines’ residences. The scenic spots comprise Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, which the emperor and his concubines used for amusement and enjoyment. Kunming Lake, situated south of Longevity Hill, covers three-fourths of this garden. Spanning Kunming Lake, seventeen grand arch bridges look like a rainbow crossing over the waters. The bridges are serpentine and look like an emerald green belt. The ancient constructions are built among the trees, waters, and hills. The whole environment leads people to celestial hills on the sea where they can see the trace of the southern sceneries of Yangtze River.
The Summer Sight in Summer Palace
In the old days Chinese people would pay special attention to Fengshui (geomantic omen) and Eight Diagrams before they would build a house. In 1998, thanks to its long history and abundant cultural meaning, beautiful and natural landscapes, and excellent protection and management, Summer Palace was successfully accepted into the world heritage list by UNESCO.
For flower lovers, Summer Palace is also a good place to visit. The white and purple magnolia trees were planted behind Summer Palace’s Changle Hall and sides of the corridor in the days of Qianlong. In the old days, the garden was filled with blossoming magnolia trees spreading flower fragrance everywhere. It’s a pity that they were all burnt down after England and France invaded China. But when Empress Dowager Ci Xi took control of the country, she ordered the planting of white and purple magnolia trees once again. Many believe that the empress shared her name with the trees – Magnolia.
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