Friday, January 4, 2013

The Summer Palace in Beijing, China

The Summer Palace in Beijing, China, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most beautiful palaces in the world. It is called Yihe Yuan in Chinese, which can be translated into the ‘gardens of nurtured harmony’. The Summer Palace in China is one of the largest palaces in the world, and is spread over an area of 2.9 kilometres, which includes the Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill.

The Summer Palace in Beijing, China with Kunming Lake

In fact, the Kunming Lake is a man-made lake, and the soil that was dug out of it was used to make Longevity Hill. Around the hill are numerous halls and pavilions, including the imposing Summer Palace or Yíhé Yuán palace. The gardens of the palace are decorated with temples, bridges and pavilions, and are an outstanding example of Chinese landscape gardening.

The Summer Palace in China was commissioned by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty in 1749, who gave the hill on which it stands its current name of ‘Longevity Hill’. It was destroyed during the Opium War, and later reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi. During this period, the Empress ordered for 30 million taels of silver to be used for revamping the palace.

Beautiful Chinese designs on the walls of the Summer Palace in Beijing

In total, there are more than 3,000 ancient structures in the Summer Palace area, which includes majestic pavilions, towers, bridges, corridors and temples. Some of the most beautifully designed buildings are located on the south side of Longevity Hill. These include the Cloud-Dispelling Hall, the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, the Tower of Buddhist Incense and the Sea of Wisdom Temple.

The Summer Palace is divided into three areas, one for political and administrative functions, one for the residence of the Emperor and his family, and the third is the imperial garden for recreation and beauty. There are beautiful lakes and streams meandering through the gardens of the Summer Palace. Buildings and other architectural creations in the area are adorned with exquisite Chinese motifs and designs.

Jade Belt Bridge in the imperial gardens of Beijing's Summer Palace

Today, the Summer Palace is a public park, and can be freely accessed from the city of Beijing through public transport. It is also on UNESCO’s renowned list of World Heritage Sites, mainly due to its tumultuous history and picturesque gardens. Most visitors to this Chinese palace give positive reviews about the place.

What do you think of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China? Would you like to visit it for a holiday?

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