Home>>>City Guide>>>>Attraction>>>>Beijing

Summer Kunming Lake


Kunming Lake   is the central lake on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Together with the Longevity Hill, Kunming Lake forms the key landscape features of the Summer Palace gardens.

With an area of 2.2 square kilometers, Kunming Lake covers approximately three quarters of the Summer Palace grounds. It is fairly shallow with an average depth of only 1.5 meter. Since the lake develops a solid ice cover in winter, it is used for ice skating.

Kunming Lake is a man-made lake. Its predecessors were called Wengshan (Jar Hill) Pond and Xihu Lake. They were reservoirs which had been used as sources of water both for the city and irrigation of fields over a period of 3,500 years. Guo Shoujing, a famous astronomer and engineer in his time, developed it into a reservoir for the capital of the Yuan Dynasty in 1291. The conversion of the area into an imperial garden was commissioned by the Qianlong Emperor with the work being carried out between 1750 and 1764 . In the course of creating the gardens, the lake area was extended by a workforce of almost 10,000 laborers.

In the year 1990 and 1991, the Beijing Municipal Government undertook the first dredging of the lake in 240 years. A total of 652,600 cubic meters of sludge were removed in the work. 205 Japanese bombs dropped during the Sino-Japanese War were also found.

Garden Design
With its three large islands, Kunming Lake represents the traditional Chinese garden element of the "fairy hill within the sea". The three islands are named Nanhu (South Lake), Tuancheng, and Zaojian Island and are modelled after the three famous fairy tale islands Yingzhou,Penglai ,and Fangzhang ,where immortals were said to live. Many features of Kunming Lake are inspired by natural scenery form the region south of the Yangtze River. In particular, the West Dike is a recreation of the famous Su Di Dike on the West Lake in Hangzhou. It cuts diagonally through the southern part of the lake. Like the Su Di Dike, the West Dike is connected through six bridges, each with its own distinctive style: Jiehu, Binfeng, Yudai, Jing, Lian, and Liu Bridge.

The largest bridge on Kunming Lake is the 17-Arch Bridge, it connects the eastern shore with Nanhu Island, which represents the mythical Penglai Island. Close to the bridge on the eastern shore stands a bronze ox sculpture. According the Chinese legend, Yu the Great used an iron ox to prevent flooding. Since the bronze ox is located on the eastern dike of Kunming Lake in the direction of the Forbidden City, it was probably erected in order to protect the Forbidden City from the Lake's floods.

                                                                                            Summer Palace