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Summer Palace scenic areas

Main Gate---Eastern Palace Gate

It is the main entrance to the Summer Palace. The opening in the center was for the emperor and empress exclusively. The two side openings were for the use of princes and court officials. Eunuchs and soldiers used side gates to the south and north. The name plaque "Yiheyuan" in front of the gate was written by emperor Guang Xu. The stone slab in front of the gate bears a carving in relief of two dragons playing with a pearl, a symbol of imperial authority.

Visitors to the Summer Palace usually enter the Palace from the East Palace Gate, it is considered the front Gate of the Summer Palace because the Qing Emperor Guangxu's inscription "The Summer Palace" hangs over the Gate. In the center of the stairs is a stone carving Two dragons playing with a pearl, it was made during the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795), originally, it was put in Yuan Ming Yuan Garden (Garden of Perfection and Brightness and later moved here, the two bronze lions outside the Gate were also made in Emperor Qianlong's reign, the lions were auspicious guardians to ward off evil spirits in ancient China, this Gate was actually the place where the Empress Dowager Ci'xi's sedan chair was carried in.

Entering the Gate, you'll immediately see two crowds on each side of the passage, the crowd on the left were reading the introduction of the Summer Palace, while, on the right hand side, another crowd were looking at a big map of the Palace (Standing in front of the big map and begining introduction.)

The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, it is a hall for political activities in the Summer Palace and that is the Garden of Virtuous Harmony. By the sides of the Gate of Benevolence and longevity is a pair of strange looking stones, these two stones resemble the two lovely figures in the famous Chinese classic novel "Pilgrimage to the West", the left stone is supposed to resemble the Monkey King-the first disciple of the famous Tang Dynasty Monk Xuanzang; the right hand stone looks like Pigsy, Xuanzang's second disciples the two disciples were said to put here to guard the Palace for the emperors.

Now, a three metre high rock blocks th scene, it was transported all the way from Taihu Lake area in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. Therefore, it was named Taihu Rock after the Taihu Lake. In the Qing Dynasty, the rock was located in Prince Morgan's Garden in the present site of Beijing University, and it was moved here later for a better view.

The monster looking bronze animal behind the Taihu Rock was called Xuanni (also called bronze Qilin). In the real world, no such animals really existed, it was only an imaginery animal in Chinese mytholody. Just have a close look at the animal, you'll find that it has a head of dragon, the antlers of a deer, the hooves of an ox, and the tail of a lion; Xuanni was supposed to be one of the nine sons, which could distinguish right and wrong, loyal and disloyal. When enemies invaded, they would fall down when they touched the antlers of Xuanni, moreover, it could also prevent the Palace from fire. Originally, there were one pair of Xuanni in Yuan Ming Yuan Garden, but in 1,860 when the Allied Anglo-French Forces invaded China, one was destroyed.

These vats were used for storing water against fire, they were called Tai Ping Vats (bats to guarantee Great Peace), during the war against Japan, the Japanese tried to take these vats home when they invaded Beijing. After 1945, they were sent back from Tianjin.

The bronze dragons and phoenixes are incense burners, as we know, dragon and phoenix are the symbols of Emperor and Empress. When there was a ceremony, usually, the Tibetan incense was burnt to create a solemn atmosphere.


Renshou ( Benevolence and Longevity) Hall

It was originally named Qinzheng (Be Diligent in Administration) Hall. The present name came into being during the reign of Emperor Guang Xu. It was used by Empress Dowager Ci Xi and Emperor Guang Xu to give audiences. In 1898 Emperor Guang Xu met Kang You wei, leader of the reformists, in this hall and appointed him a high-ranking court minister. But the reform failed in 100 days because the conservative force was too strong.

Grand Opera Tower

The imperial theater in the Dehe Garden is the largest of its kind in China today. It is 21 meters high and has three floors. An opening is in the ceiling of the first floor, in which a winch could lower performers and props down onto the first floor. Performers could appear on the three floors at the same time.


Pai Yun (Dispersing Clouds) Hall

One of the main buildings on the Longevity Hill, it was specially built for Empress Dowager Ci Xi to receive her birthday greetings. Corridors link the main hall to side houses on both sides. Pillars in crimson color and the roof with golden glazed tiles dazzle brightly in sunshine.

The Garden of Harmonious Interest
Located by the eastern slope of Longevity Hill, it is an imitation of
the Garden of Reserved Delight in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. The emperor and empress used to go fishing or enjoy lotus flowers in this garden of the South China style.

Marble Boat

Also known as Qingyanfang, it was made with huge stone blocks in 1755. The 36-meter-long immovable boat has two tiers. It was placed in the lake to symbolize the steadfast rule of the Qing Dynasty.



Foxiang (Buddha Fragrance) Pavilion

It stands on a 21-meter-high stone terrace on the sheer front side of the Longevity Hill. It overlooks Kunming Lake in front and Zhihuihai Buddha Hall in the back. Other buildings stretch on either side of it in a neat symmetrical pattern. The tower was burnt down by British and French soldiers in 1860 and a new one was built on the site later.

Western Shore of Kunming Lake

It is a copy of the Su Causeway at West Lake in Hangzhou. Along the shore there are no man-made objects except six bridges. The quietness there is a strong contrast with the bustling area in front of the Longevity Hill.Occupying an area of 304 hectares, the Summer Palace features hilly and water scenery. The Kunming Lake makes up four-fifths of this royal park. The Long Corridor running east-west along the lake as well as the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, the Sea of Wisdom, and the Hall of Dispelling the Clouds and Suzhou Street standing south to north on the Longevity Hill are the major scenic spots. The Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, 41 meters high, is decorated with glazed tiles. Its walls were carved with 1,008 niches and images of Buddha. The Marble Boat at the western end of the Long Corridor is a noted structure on water. Built in 1755, the boat, having a length of 36 meters, was made completely out of marble. There is a mirror on each of its two decks to reflect lake water. Sitting before the mirror gives a feeling of sitting on the ripples of water.

The Palace Lakes

To the south of Longevity Hill is a vast expanse of water embellished with a number of small islands and a long embankment. The islands take their names from the structures built upon them: the Knowing Spring Pavilion; the Phoenix Pier; the Mirror Tower; and the Hall of Ornate Mirrors. The most accessible is the Southern Lake Island.

The Temple of the Dragon King is the main point of interest on the Southern Lake Island. Seen from afar, it resembles a mythical fairy mountain in the middle of the sea. The Southern Lake Island is connected to the shore by the magnificent Seventeen-Arch Bridge, which is decorated with numerous sculptures of lions. A large bronze bull sits on the shore at he east end of the bridge, ostensibly for the purpose of suppressing floods. An "Inscription to the Golden Bull" is cast in ancient seal characters on the bull's is cast in ancient seal characters on the bull's back. The Tapestry of Ripples Bridge (Xiuyiqiao) at the southern end of the lake narks the former site of a lock, which connected kunming Lake with the old canal, which leads to the center of the capital. Nearby are the tomb of Yelu Chucai, the famous advisor to Genghis Khan, and a naturally formed swimming pool.

The Western Embankment, totaling 2.5 kilometers, leads from the Willow Bridge in the south to the Lake Edge Bridge (Jiehuqiao) in the northwest corner of the palace. Peach and willow trees grow along its entire length and six bridges dotted on it were designed in imitation of those on the Su Dyke (Sudi) on Hangzhou's West Lake. The highest of the bridges is the superb Jade Belt Bridge (Yudaiqiao), known also as the Camel's Back Bridge, because of its tall and elegant arch.

Summer is naturally the finest time of year to visit the Summer Palace. By the end of April, winter jasmine and mountain peach make their early debut on the northern side of the Longevity Hill. Not long after this, flaming-red plums and sweet almonds come into bloom, followed by Chinese crabapples and lilacs. Next, magnolias and peonies, the "king of flowers," are in full bloom, while Chinese wisteria and herbaceous peonies are in bud along the Long Corridor. The mock oranges in front of the Palace of Parting Clouds bloom in mid-May, while the season for lotuses extends from July to October. At the height of summer, jasmine and osmanthus send forth their fragrance. The frost-defying autumn chrysanthemums bring this symphony of flowers to a splendid close, making their debut on October 1, China's National Day.

Note: Tingliguan, or the Hall for Listening to the Orioles located in the middle section of the Longevity Hill, where the Dowager Empress watched opera, is now a restaurant serving dishes cooked with the recipes from the royal kitchen. 

Bronze Bull

Built of marble and white stone, the Jade Belt Bridge has a high arch and is one of the six bridges on the West Shore on Kunming Lake.
Inscribed on its back is a "Eulogy of the
Golden Bull" written by the Qing Emperor Qianlong
in the ancient seal style.

Suzhou Street

A phony business street was laid out along the Rear Lake in Summer Palace in the style of a market place along a lake or river in South China. Whenever the emperor and empress went there, the eunuchs would amuse them by acting like shop assistants, hawkers or customers.

Over 60 stores extend from North Palace Gate entrance into a street about 300 meters (328.1 yards) in length. Along the Back Lake, the street design imitates the ancient style of shops on the banks of rivers in Suzhou City, Zhejiang Province, that is, taking the running water of Back Lake as the street and its banks as a market. The area served as an entertainment place where Emperors and concubines could feel as if they were strolling on a commercial street. When the royals went there, eunuchs and maids of honor would playact as peddlers, customers and shop assistants to mimic market activities.

Built during the reign of Qianlong (1711-1799), it was burned down by Anglo-French allied force in 1860. Until 1986, it was rebuilt and in 1990 it was opened to the public. Today¬∑Żs market includes stores such as dyers, souvenir shops, drugstores, banks, shoe stores, teashops, and hockshops, with clerks dressed in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) costumes.

                                                                              A Bridge over Garden Waters

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