Discover Beijing,the political, cultural, and educational center of China. Explore the cultural treasures such as the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heave,and the Great Wall. Wander through the Hutongs and ex joy the old and new city.
The Forbidden City was the palace of the Emperors from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty. The city was built between 1406 and 1420. Today, all most the entire city is open to the visitor.
The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The Outer Court accessed through the South Gate which looks onto Tienanmen Square and the Inner Court to the North. The Outer Court was used for ceremonies and greeting foreign guests. While the Inner Court was the residence of the Emperor and his Family. After entering the Meridian Gate you enter a large square, which is crossed by the meandering Golden Water River. The river is crossed by five marble bridges. The marble steps at the northern end of the square lead up to the Gate of Supreme Harmony. A pair of lions ( statues ) guard the steps to the gate.
Supreme Harmony Hall
The Hall of Supreme Harmony (Tai He Dian ) is the first and main hall of the three major halls in the Outer Court. Tai Hai Dian is commonly known as the Hall of Golden Chimes. It was first constructed in 1420, though was rebuilt a number of times after fires caused by lightening.
The present hall was constructed in 1645.The hall is constructed on a three tiered white marble base. The corner eaves are decorated with animals. The Emperors Throne is on the City's axial line. In the center of the ceiling there is a carved crouching dragon with a pearl in it's mouth. Important ceremonies such as lunar New Year, Winter Solstice and the emperor's Birthday were celebrated in the hall.
The large vats on either side of the hall were filled with water and used for fire fighting. During the winter months the water was heated to keep it from freezing.
The large vats on either side of the hall were filled with water and used for fire fighting. During the winter months the water was heated to keep it from freezing.
Zhong He Dian or Hall of Central Harmony, was built in 1420 and destroyed many tomes by fire. The square building has a pyramid shaped roof with a gold plated bronze covering.
The floor is paved with high quality clay bricks commonly called golden bricks. A throne is placed in the centre above which is an inscription which reads "The way of heaven is profound and the way of mankind difficult" The term Zhong He comes from the book of Rites which means "When we handle matters properly and harmoniously without leaning to either side, all things on earth will flourish." The hall served as a resting place for the emperor on his way to important meetings.
Bao He Dian, the Hall of Preserving Harmony leads into the final court yard before the Inner Court. In the Ming Dynasty, the Emperor changed clothes here before important ceremonies. Later in the Qing Dynasty, the Emperor held banquets here for minor Ethic leaders on the Lunar New Year and Lantern Festivals. The term Bao He comes from the Book of Changes and means "maintaining harmony among all things on earth to have a long period of peace and stability.
Within the Inner Court there are a number of Palaces and Halls. The Palace of Heavenly purity, during the Ming and Qing dynasties the emperor lived and held political meetings in this palace.
The "Heir Apparent Box" was set behind a board in the hall with the inscription "Above Board". The emperor would place the name of his heir secretly in the box. After his death, the appointed heir would assume the throne.
The Hall of Earthly Tranquillity leads out to the Imperial Gardens. This hall was built as a replica of the Qing Ning Gong ( Palace of Peace and Tranquillity) in Liaoning Province. The Hall was built in Manchu style with it's gate on the eastern side rather than in the middle. The hall has double eaves and a wudian (thatched )roof covered with yellow glazed tiles
The Imperial Gardens are worth a stroll about. In the garden the Hill of Accumulated Elegance was made of rocks piled on the original site of the Hall of Appreciating Flowers.The hill is about 10 metres high, on top of which stands the Pavilion of Imperial Scenery. The 4 Chinese juniper trees in front of the four doors of the Wanchun Ting Pavilion are noted for their unique shaped crafted by gardeners of old.
The Forbidden City is surrounded by a high wall (nearly 8 metres high) and a moat 6 metres deep and over 50 metres wide.
On the four corners of the rectangular wall there are watch towers. Their roofs have intricate designs, with over 70 ridges and are suppose to be replicas of the Pavilion of Prince Teng and the Yellow Crane Pavilion as seen in Song Dynasty paintings.
On each wall there is a gate. At the southern end the Meridian Gate, in the north the Gate of Divine Might. The east and west gates are called East Glorious Gate and West Glorious Gate . The north gate faces Jingshan Park
To the south of the Forbidden City were two important shrines – the Imperial Shrine of Family ( and the Imperial Shrine of State , where the Emperor would venerate the spirits of his ancestors and the spirit of the nation, respectively. Today, these are the Beijing Labouring People's Cultural Hall. Two almost identical gatehouses stand along the main axis to the south. They are the Upright Gate and the more famous Tiananmen Gate, which is decorated with a portrait of Mao Zedong in the centre and two placards to the left and right: "Long Live the People's Republic of China" and "Long live the Great Unity of the World's Peoples".
The Royal Gardens
Inside the Forbidden City, visitors would get to enjoy four gardens namely the Imperial Garden, Jianfu Palace Garden, Garden of Benevolent Peace, Garden of the Palace of Peace and Longevity. The most visited by people is the Imperial Garden. This well-known garden where the emperors and empresses used to be strolling offers many attractions.
There you will find the Hall of Imperial Peace which divides the garden into eastern and western sections and Piled Elegance Hill which is made up of interesting artificial rocks towering up to 14 meters. The garden is a haven for trees like cypress and Chinese wisteria, standing for already hundreds of years. These trees come in peculiar forms which add character to the place.
The Colored-stone pathway is also striking with roughly 900 patterns all in all.
The garden is really impressive with the history it cradles and the beauty of the landscape. Various Chinese Festivals are also held here. However, these days, with its popularity, it is usually crowded with tourists.
The Residences and Museums
The Forbidden City has been home to the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as their wives and concubines. The grandeur of the Forbidden City is in no doubt associated with the number of palaces inside it, each of which carries a fascinating name and history. There are two sets of palaces in the area aside from the palaces where the emperors live, the Six Eastern Palaces (Dongliugong) and the Six Western Palaces (Xiliugong).
Under the Six Eastern Palaces, we have the Palace of Great Benevolence, Palace of Celestial Favour, Palace of Eternal Harmony, Palace of Great Brilliance, Palace of Purity, and Palace of Lasting Happiness. The most famous among them is the Palace for Gathering Elegance which is where Empress Dowager Cixi used to stay. This palace used to be for concubines but after Cixi lived there, the esteem of palace rose.
With regard to the Western counterpart, they are the Palace of Eternal Longevity, Palace of the Queen Consort, Palace for the Gathering Elegance, Hall of the Supreme Pole, and the Palace of Eternal Spring.
These palaces are also meant for the concubines of the emperors. Aside from these, there is also the Palace of Heavenly Purity which is the emperor’s sleeping quarters and Ningshougong or the Tranquillity and Longevity Palace which served as the retirement place of Emperor Hongli of the Qing Dynasty, while the emperor’s mother lived in the Palace of Benevolent Peace.
The Palace Museum, which used to be the imperial palace in the Ming and Qing dynasties, was established in 1925. It resides inside the Forbidden City. It now houses approximately 1.17 million relics which resulted to it being recognized as the museum with the largest collection of ancient art works. This collection is composed of paintings, pottery, bronze works, inscribed wares, toys, clocks and court documents.
The plethora of treasures in the museum is simply astonishing with hundreds of year worth of history and with the simple fact that these used to be parts of the life of ancient Chinese royalties. Some of the most acknowledged are the Yaxu Rectangular Vessel (Bronzeware Hall of Chengqian Palace), Lang-Kiln Red-Glazed vase (Pottery Hall of Wenhua Palace), Silk Tapestry of the Painting “Plum Blossom and Magpie”, Colorized Lacquer Clock with Eight Immortals(Clock Hall of Fengxian Palace), Letter of Recovery (Wuying Palace), Jinou Yonggu Cup of Emperor Qianlong (Ningshou Palace), and so much more.
The Purple Forbidden City, which is how the museum is referred by the Chinese, is also an architectural wonder. In fact, it is also known as China’s largest and most comprehensive array of ancient halls.
The area around Qian Men gate, Tianamen Square and Qianmen Street is the center of Bejing and is most popular with tourists.
Qian Men Gate
Qian Men Gate or Front gate - lies top the south of the Forbidden City at the top of Qian Men Street. It lies on the North South axis which runs through the city centre. The Zhengyangmen Men tower which consisted of a gate and an Jian Lou archery tower protected the city from the south. The Zhengyangmen tower is the tallest of the towers in the Forbidden City complex.
Close to the Arrow Tower is Bejing's narrowest Hutong at just 41 cm wide - look for Qianshi hutong on the map.
Qian Men Street
Qianmen Street, is the most well known street in Beijing. It runs south for about a kilometre from the Archery Tower. During the Ming and Qing dynasties the street was a major trading street. The street has many traditional Chinese shops as well as world known brands. To the west and east lie the narrow streets of the Hutongs. Within the west Hutongs there are many traditional restaurants and shops.
The popular Quanjude restaurant which serves Peking Duck is on the street.
Evening in Bejing
After nightfall many of the buildings along Qianmen Street and the towers and walls of the Forbidden City are lit by contour hugging bulbs. Evening time is Bejing is a time for walking and strolling about the restaurant streets and stalls of the Hutongs.
The large square in the city just south of the Forbidden City is called after Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace). The square is the third largest city square in the world. The square being in the centre of the city is easily accessible by public transport. The mausoleum of Chairman Mao is the focal point of the square.
On the west side of the square is the Great Hall of the People, the house of the National People's congress.
On the south side is the Tower housing a museum, this tower along with Arrow Tower - formed a double gate, called Qian Men after which the main street is called.
Towards the north of the square is the Monument to the People's Heroes, which was erected in 1958 to commemorate China's revolutionary history. Across from the Tinamen Gate the National Flag is raised at dawn and lowered at dusk to a military parade.
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven was built during the Ming Dynasty 1420, as a sacred alter for the Emperors to offer sacrifices to the heaven and pray for a large harvest.
Hall of Prayer
Temple of Heaven
When viewed from above, the garden is circular in the north and square in the south, with a stone paved main road running north to south. The Temple of Heaven covers an area of 273 hectares though the buildings only account for about 1% of this.
The ancient beliefs of flat and square earth and circular heaven are reflected in the garden. In 1530 during the reign of Emperor Jiajing, people offered sacrifices to Heaven and Earth separately, so the circular mound was built and used only for Heavenly worship. The Northern circular alters are connected to the southern alters by the Danbi Bridge. The Great Hall for Offering Sacrifices was built in 1545 and later became known as the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The Imperial Vault of Heaven was the transitional building between the circular Earthly Altars to the north and the square heavenly altars to the south.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest The hall rests on a three layered white marble round altar. The altar is about 5 metres in height and nearly 70 metres in diameter at the top, while the middle tier is 80 and lower layer 90 metres. Each layer is surrounded by a marble balustrade. The hall is 32 m high, with three layer of eaves, all layered with dark blue glazed tiles, symbolizing the colour of Heaven. The hall is supported by 28 wooden columns. The four central columns represent the four seasons. These columns are surrounded by two rings of 12 columns. The inner ring represents the twelve months and the outer the day and night hours.
Long Corridor East of the all of Prayer for Good Harvest is the Long Corridor which leads to the Divine Kitchen and the Butcher House. According to the Sacrificial Rtes, the animal sacrifice should be no more than 200 steps from the sacrificial altar. The Long Corridor with its winding passageways was covered to protect the sacrifice from being soiled by rain, snow or dust. After being slaughtered the animals were carried to the Divine Kitchen where they were prepared and brought to the altar at midnight.
Vault of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
The Imperial Vault of Heaven was the transitional building between the circular Earthly Altars to the north and the square heavenly altars to the south.The Echo wall surrounding the Imperial Vault of Heaven is an echo wall. The wall is made of bricks from Linqing, Shandong Provence. The bricks are fine and of close texture. The wall is also called Sound Spreading Wall. People speaking facing the wall on one side can be heard by those facing the wall on the other side.
During Qing Dynasty, before the Heavenly Worship ceremony, the Emperor would leave the Forbidden City under escort. At the head of the procession, Guide Elephants, wrapped with blue saddle cloth, lead the way. These were followed by Treasure Elephants carrying bottles of treasure in their saddles.
The elephants were followed by the minister in charge of military affairs carrying whistling whips. These were followed by the music team and five chariots. This was followed by the Emperor being carried in a huge sedan carried by 36 bearers. Civil Officials, officers of the armed service, eunuchs, bodyguards and the grand army followed.
The procession was trailed by the civil officers on horseback. The parade stretched for over half a kilometre.
Danbi Bridge Walk
Temple of Heaven
The ancient beliefs of flat and square earth and circular heaven are reflected in the garden.
In 1530 during the reign of Emperor Jiajing, people offered sacrifices to Heaven and Earth separately, so the circular mound was built and used only for Heavenly worship.
The Northern circular alters are connected to the southern alters by the Danbi Bridge.
Temple of Heaven
Circular Mound Altar The Ming and Qing Emperors worshipped heaven on the winter solstice every year on the Circular Mound.
The surface of the altar is paved with artemisa leaf grey marbles. In the center of the upper terrace there is a raised round marble, called the Heavenly Center Stone. While standing on the stone and speaking once can feel a strong acoustic resonance – as if speaking with the gods. The rites official would have stood on the stone, reading aloud to the gods.
Temple of Heaven
The Beamless Palace is the main hall in the Fasting Palace. It is made entirely of bricks and tiles, it has become known as the Beamless Palace. It was the place where the Emperor met visitors during the fasting prior to the sacrifices.
Outside the Beamless Palace there is a small stone pavilion (Pavilion of Fasting) , about 3 metres high. During fasting days a bronze figurine holding the rules of fasting was placed inside. This was to remind the Emperor to abide by the fasting rules
Explore the oft time narrow (40 cm ) alley ways and lane ways that intersect throughout the city and teem with traditional life.
The term Hutong is a Mongolian word meaning water well, today they tend to mean the narrow streets, courtyards and alley ways around Qianmen Street and the Forbidden City. Though originally the Hutongs were built with water wells being their focal point. Today there are about 1000 of these narrow Hutong streets.
When viewed from the air, they look like a chess board of courtyards and gardens divided by the narrow lanes. Public bathrooms and toilets can still be found among many of the Hutongs.
The longest Hutong approx. 6.5 km,Dongjiaominxiang Hutong, lies between Qianmen St west and east.
The Dazhalan Hutongs between Qianmen St and Nan XinHua Jie- are narrow, restaurant, shop filled and teeming with every day life.
The market to the west of Nan Xinhua Jie among the Hutongs is a hive of activity in the mornings.
Prince Gong's Mansion
The Mansion lies west of the Qian Hai Lake and is a well maintained home of a Manchu Official called Heshun and favourite of the Emperor QianLong, though this affiliation didn't last long after it was discovered that Heshun was using the Emperors' motifs in the mansion's designs.
The mansion was the appropriated by the emperor and subsequently bequeathed to Prince Gong by Emperor Xianfeng.
You can tour the house and buildings and gardens.
Explore the Hutongs west of Nan XinHua Jie, this area while being traditional in look is of more recent origin. Wander about the small shops, local restaurants and small businesses.
Drum Tower Hutongs
North of QianHai Sea lies the Drum and Bell Towers and a series of Hutongs around South Gong and Drum Lane.
The area between the Drum Towers and the lake is also a warren of Hutongs some of which how have café's,restaurants and bars.
The homes in the Hutongs in this part of the city, being closer to the Forbidden City were the homes of wealthy officials and administrators rather than the crafts people of the Hutongs close to Qian Men Street.
In the center of the city to the west of the Forbidden City there are a series of interconnected recreational lakes.
Qian Hai Sea
Qian Hai Lake is just north west of the Forbidden City and across the road from the North Sea.
There is a pleasant walk way around the lake.
In winter it is well frozen solid while in summer paddle boats and gondolas can be hired from jetties along the shore.
The Drum and Bell Towers are further north.
The Beihai or Northern Sea lies just north of the Forbidden city and above Zhongnanhai - Central Sea is one of the oldest imperial gardens. The original park was built during the Liao Dynasty (916 - 1125)and rebuilt during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The lake covers about half the area of the park. The Jade Islet in the centre of the lake is topped by a Tibetan White Dagoba, built to mark the visit of the Dalai Lama in 1651 and the Emperors belief in Buddhism.
The Dagoba was destroyed by earthquake twice. It's the highest point in the park and offers commanding views.
The southern end of the park forms part of the Communist Party Headquarters and access is restricted.
Spring in Bei Hai
After the winter ice melts on the lake, the park becomes once again a hive of activity, especially at the week ends, when visitors hire boats to paddle about the waters.
QianHai Sea Bridge
The bridge over the Qian Hai Sea is a meeting place for families and friends at week ends and holidays.
There are restaurants and shops close by.
The road north across the bridge leads to the Drum Bell Towers.
The park is a commemoration to Sun Zhongshan who is recognized as one of the China’s great leaders. The park is a combination of majestic arches, pavilion, placated by the various colourful flowers and ancient cypress trees.
There is even a peony pond and a lovely array of tulips, in 39 various kinds, presented by the Princess of Holland in 1977. Inside a nearby hall, there is the eight Orchid Pavilion stela, which were engraved by Emperor Qianlong. This park used to be the resting place of the Altar of Land and Grain. It is found in the west of Tian’anmen Rostrum.
Here you would find a grandiose pavilion with an equally impressive archway on its front that is dedicated to the German Minister Baron Von Kettler who was killed during the Boxer Rebellion.
There is also what they call “a Slice of Dark Clouds” which is a sample of the Taihu Lake stone. It is extra special because it was also Emperor Qianlong himself who created the inscription.
If you just want to have some kind isolation for a while from the buzzing energy of Beijing, you may want to consider a visit to Jingshan Park located at Jingshan Hill at the center of the city.
Coal Hill or Meishan Hill is how it was originally called. Here you could enjoy rejuvenating calmness of a garden. It used to be a part of the Forbidden City but it separated during the early 1900s. Jingshan Park is a beautiful vantage point for people who want to see the exquisiteness of Beijing and the Forbidden City in a higher perspective.
Some of the main attractions here are the Qiwang Pavilion where the emperors used to worship the memorial tablet of Confucius, and the Wanchun Pavilion which is on the middle of the five peaks and it is where visitors could have the perfect view of Beijing.
Jingshan Park offers a lovely garden full of peony roses which give color and flavour to the place. Take note that it would only cost you 2 CNY to visit this spectacle.
Bell Drum Tower
Since the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) The Bell and Drum have been used to mark out time. The Bell sounded the morning hour and the Drum the night hour.
These Bell and Drum towers were built in 1272 and its not unusual to find similar Bell-Drum Towers in towns and cities throughout the country.
During the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911), the Bell and Drums told the time.
The Bell-Drum which fell silent at the end of the Qing Dynasty are sound out every New Year since 2000.
Beijing is not just a museum of historical sites but has a number of 20th century places worth visiting.
Centre Performing Arts
The National Centre for performing arts is located just west of Tienanmen Square.
The centre housed in an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass seats nearly five and a half thousand in three halls.
The Dome or Giant Egg as it's often called is surrounded by a lake.
The Zoo is one of the oldest in China (906) and is home to over 14,000 animals. More than six million visitors come to the Zoo annually and the Panda Bears are a major attraction.
Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China hugs the contours of the hills and mountains west of Beijing and is easily accessible by train or tour.
Great Wall of China
Rather than being a single wall, the Great Wall of China is a series of walls and fortifications, built along an east west line across the northern borders, to protect the Chinese Empire from incursions. The earliest recorded walls dated back to the 7th century BC. Many of these earlier walls were interconnected to form an almost continues walled fortification.
During the course of the centuries the Great Wall has been built, destroyed, rebuilt, strengthened. The majority of the existing wall dates to the Ming Dynasty. Along the top of the wall, a paved path, though with many steps follows the walls route. This enabled easier trade into the heart of the inner region.
The wall at Badaling is about 7.5 km long. It is a good example of how the wall originally looked. Here the wall is built with huge granite cut slabs, weighing over a 1,000 kg. The wall is about 7.5 metres high and nearly 6 metres wide.
The military outposts on this section of the wall reflects it’s strategic importance in protecting Beijing. The Wall at Badaling was built in during the Ming Dynasty approx. 1505 and this section has been open to the public since 1957.
Great Wall of China
The portion of the wall at Badaling has undergone heavy restoration, and in 1957 it was the first section of the wall to open to tourists.
Now visited annually by millions, the immediate area has seen significant development, including hotels, restaurants, and a cable car.
There is a visitor centre close too the arched entrance.
Travel by Train
Great Wall of China
When travelling by train from Beijing you pass by sections of the wall as it hugs the contours of the hills out beyond the city confines.
Line S2, Beijing Suburban Railway, serves people who wanted to go to the Great Wall from Beijing North Railway Station.
The recently completed Badaling Expressway connects Badaling with central Beijing.
A bus also runs frequently from Deshengmen to Badaling.
Spring Time at the Great Wall
Great Wall of China
After the mountain trees have shed their winter gloom and the floors return to the cherry trees, the wall takes on an even more impressive look.
The Wangfujing area in the Dongcheng District is home to shopping malls, pedestrianised streets and global brands.
The Wangfujing Shopping Streets
Wangfujing is very popular among tourists as the perfect shopping spot. It is not only recognized in Beijing but in the entirety of China. Whopping shopping malls besiege the place.
One of the most talked about is the Beijing Department Store, where they said you would find almost anything. Along the streets, boutiques of every kind line up, from the modern fancy ones to the traditional Chinese local shops. For foreign travellers, they might find Foreign Languages Bookstore a very interesting place.
They could buy various books there related to China that are translated to different languages. The other malls are Sun Dong An Plaza, The Malls at Oriental Plaza, while the other bookstores are Wangfujing Bookstore and Xin Zhong Guo Kid’s stuff or Children’s Good Store. Moreover, if you fancy a food trip, there is the Wangfujing XiaoChijie or Wangfujing Snack Street where people could also buy some souvenirs and then there is Donghuamen Night Market where bizarre food could be found. However, tourists must take note it is not the kind of market where you can buy cheaper stuff.
The prices there might even be higher and are usually set but according to some the quality of the products are comparatively better there.
The Summer Palace with its vast lakes, gardens and palaces has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
East Gate Entrance
The Summer Palace is simply astonishing. With the beautiful architecture and landscape, you would surely fall in love in to this place. The Summer Palace is one of the most preserved royal parks in China which was created built back in 1750 and was originally called Qingyi Garden (Garden of Clear Ripples). It is not found in the city center of Beijing but is located at the Haidan district which is in Northwest Beijing.
It was originally made for the as the royal families park where they could enjoy a stroll and just relax. Although at the end of the Qing dynasty, the royal family also used it as a residence. Since 1924, fortunately, it has already been open for everyone. Today, the Summer Palace is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The wonders inside the Summer Palace are simply innumerable but to name a few, here are:
The East Palace Gate resides at the front of the Summer Palace serving as an imposing entrance. The gate represents the culture of feudal hierarchy in the history of Chinese culture. There are two doors at the side for royal family members and other court officials while the three impressive doors at the front are reserved for the emperor, empress, and the queen mother.
The East Palace Gate is also adorned with grandiose features like two bronze lions at the front, with male in the south and female in the north. There are also paintings on the beams under the roof space, while a plaque inscribed by Emperor Guanxu hangs at the gate.
Lake Side East
Kunming Lake covers almost three-fourths of the Summer Palace. Regarded as the most beautiful water form in Beijing, Kunming Lake is in the middle of hills and plains which make the place picturesque. The beautiful lake was original called West Lake before Emperor Qianlong changed it in 1750 into Kunming Lake in memory of the inspection Emperoro Han Wu did in Kunming Pool of his navy. It is connected to Jade Mountain Spring and surrounded by serene structures.
The Natural Affinity of Water and Trees is actually a dock located at the Summer Palace. It was exclusively used by Empress Cixi whenever she plans to leave and arrive at the palace by water. The place may have gotten its name from its proximity to the water and with the surrounding trees nearby. The lake it houses is covered with lotuses which add up to the beauty of the place.
The Heralding Spring Pavilion is simply picture perfect. On a nearby island in front of the Hall of Jade Ripples is where the beautiful pavilion is found. Its south faces the sun, giving it a front row seat to the coming of spring. That is where it got its name. Aside from these, Heralding Spring Pavilion provides a good vantage point for people who want to witness the whole beauty of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake.
A daunting gate with three grand archways, Wenchang Gate is located between Yongning Gate and Heping Gate. The gate houses Kuixing Tower which is one of the twenty-eight constellations. According to legends, it represents the god of the rise and fall of literature who is called Wenqu Star or Wenchang Star. This is why it is called Wenchang Gate. The gate is known to be a haven to the arts, with paintings and classical art found along College Street which is at the base of the walls of Wenchang Gate as well as other things that will remind you about art.
The Stone Tablet in the form of Kunlun Stone with an inscription of three big characters that was personally made by Emperor Qianlong, is called the Stone Tablet of “Pictures of Farming and Weaving”. It was placed there in 1751.
The Bronze Ox resides at the bank of Kunming Lake to serve the purpose of preventing floods eternally. At the back of the Bronze Ox, an inscription which was also personally done by Emperor Qianlong was placed to explain its significance. Oxen are always associated to flood control due to the legen of Da Yu who is the master of flood prevention. Da Yu would designate an iron ox to the water at the end of his projects. Originally, it was covered with gold foil, but after some time the foil peeled off, so eventually what was left was the bronze color. This ox was cast in 1755.
In the Garden of Harmonious Virtue, there stands an outdoor stage which towering up to 21 meters high and stretching to about 17 meters wide.
This was made as an addition to the garden when it was renovated by Empress Dowager Cixi after the place was burned down by the Anglo-French Forces. The same opera is actually played on Cixi’s birthday.
This magnificent stage was built composing of three levels, furnished with seven traps in the ceiling where actors could act like they are immortals descending from the heaven.
The floor has seven traps as well for those playing the character of underworld creatures. Moreover, the most impressive of all is the built in well and five square water tanks under the stage so that underwater scenes could be achieved.
The grandeur of the Seventeen Arch Bridge is simply astonishing. It is epitome of the beauty of bridges. Located between Kunming Lake’s eastern shore and Nanhu Island’s west, the bridge is composed of seventeen arches which is why it is called as such.
It was also built during the time Emperor Qianlong. It prides itself as the largest bridge among the thirty bridges of the Summer Palace. Its architectural design is very impressive and gives it a very alluring character yet still serene.
South Lake Island Beijing lies at the heart of Kunming Lake where it is connected by the Seventeen Arch Bridge to the Pavilion on the east bank. Together, they create a lovely panorama of Chinese character. Here, people could also enjoy the sight of Hall of Embracing the Universe, Dragon King Temple, Hall of Foresight, Tower of Moonlight Ripples and Chamber of Hearfelt Contentment.
The Hall of Embracing the Universe was also built in the time of Emperor Qianlong. Back then, it had three floors and was dubbed as the Hall of Watching the Moon Toad. However, it was renovated in the time of Emperor Jiaqing and was turned into a single floor edifice. This hall used to be where Emperor Qianlong and Empress Dowager Cixi used to watch presentations by the naval academy.
Great Buddha Temple
This Hall of Dispelling Clouds stands at the front of Longevity Hill. It generally refers to building complex which represents the center of scenery on the hill.
It originated from the Da Baoen Yanshou Temple which was a gift by Emperor Qianlong to his mother. When it was rebuilt in the time of Emperor Guangxu, the Hall of Mahavira which is the bottom front part of the temple was changed to Hall of Dispelling Clouds. That name was taken from a verse of a poem made by Guo Pu, meaning the residents are blessed with lengthy life.
The Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha's unique character is its octahedral structure. It has three stories with four layers of eaves. It is a special accent to the splendour of the Summer Palace as it stands with the height of 36.44 meters high, carrying its elegance, at the center of the palace.
It is the house of the statue of the Guanshiyin Buddha, with a bronze cast covered with gold. This statue was said to originate from the Ming Dynasty in the time of Emperor Wanli. This tower was originally built during the time of Emperor Qianlong and was restored by Emperor Guangxu.
The Long Corridor
Also called Long Gallery, the corridor stretches for about 728 meters which made it the longest corridor among the Chinese classic gardens.
This corridor serves as a link to the different attractions in the area.
It is located at south of Longevity Hall and in array with Kunming Lake which makes it a good provider of a resting place where visitors could just simply contemplate the beauty of the lake and the hill.
It was built around 1749-1750 in the fifth year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign.
Marble Boat and Bridge
Marble boat is also called Han Chuan (Land Boat) or Bu Ji Zhou (Unmoored Boat). It was built way back in 1755.
It has a stone foundation which holds the impressive wooden pavilion which mimics the sailing boats of Emperor Qianlong. It was built here to signify the unwavering reign of the Qing Dynasty.
The original structure was destroyed in 1860, the one that stands now is the product of the restoration initiated by Empress Dowage Cixi which she patterned after the Western style which makes it the only Western inspired structure in the Palace.
This architectural wonder is a good place to enjoy the lake’s calmness
This is a market inside the Summer Palace cradling over 60 stores. The shops here would bring you back in time as they mimic the ancient shops of the Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province.
However, it served as a make-pretend market where the emperor and his concubines could have an atmosphere that of a commercial area.
Here eunuchs and maids would act as merchants and customers to complete the scene.
There is also an interesting story behind it about Emperor Qianlong wanting to satisfy the homesickness of his concubine nun who originally lives in Suzhou, thus, he built his own version of Suzhou inside the palace.