and Park, Beijing
Summer Palace, situated 15 kilometers northwest from Beijing, is considered
the best-preserved royal garden in China. Its other well-known name of
“Yiheyuan” (meaning Garden of Good Health and Harmony) illustrates the
unification between man and nature and gives a good example of the message
we are trying to convey to you, the readers.
started in the 13-14th century when a project of building canals to transport
water from the northern outskirts to an artificial lake (in the area where
now stands the Summer Palace) ended up with success. However, it was not
until the 18th century, during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, when the
Summer Palace was built. The construction needed a period of 15 years to
complete (1750-1764) and an area of 290 hectares to house the towers, bridges,
pavilions, gardens, etc. The Summer Palace did not have a fortunate destiny,
though. It was destroyed twice in war conflicts (in 1860 and 1900) and
required tremendous amount of time and effort to be rebuilt.
the Summer Palace and its gardens exhibit the best of ancient Chinese architecture.
Two grandiose elements of the Yiheyuan gardens stand out: the Kunming Lake
and the Longevity Hill. The latter was named so after a special occasion:
to celebrate the birthday of Emperor Qianlong’s mother. As a matter of
fact, the larger part of the park (3/4) is occupied by water. The Kunming
Lake, with its decorative objects and mystic spots is a very interesting
stop in the gardens. A large marble boat with fine carved inscriptions
adorns the northern bank of the lake and a pavilion with octagonal shape
stands magnificently on the eastern one. What is perhaps of greatest interest
to the visitor, is the sight of three man-made islets in the Kunming Lake.
There is a Chinese legend which goes that out there, out of human reach,
are three islands inhabited by immortal people. The lucky guy who discovers
the mysterious islands will find out the secret of eternal life.
beginning, the Summer Palace was used mainly as a leisure place, where
emperors could retire just for a while from public life and politics. No
one was allowed to disturb the emperor’s privacy while he was resting at
his summer residence – hence, the Summer Palace was also referred to as
the Forbidden City, a name widely-used even today. Eventually, after the
fall of the last Chinese emperor in 1924, the Summer Palace was open to
the public where visitors could rejoice in the pleasing gardens.
Image copyright © P.
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Image copyright © Chuck
Image copyright © Chuck
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© Chuck Payne