|Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing|
|Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List|
|Criteria||i, ii, iii|
|Inscription||1998 (22nd Session)|
The Summer Palace (simplified Chinese: 颐和园; traditional Chinese: 頤和園; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally "Gardens of Nurtured Harmony") is a former imperial palace and now a park and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Beijing, China. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres, three quarters of which is water.
Longevity Hill is about 60 metres (200 feet) high and has many buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich with splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty.
The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometres was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In the Summer Palace, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures.
In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value." It is a popular tourist destination but also serves as a recreational park.
When the Jin Dynasty emperor Wányán Liàng (February 24, 1122–December 15, 1161 CE) moved his capital to the Beijing area, he had a Gold Mountain Palace built on the site of the hill. In the Yuan Dynasty, the hill was renamed from Gold Mountain to Jug Hill (Weng Shan). This name change is explained by a legend according to which a jar with a treasure inside was once found on the hill. The loss of the jar is said to have coincided with the fall of the Ming Dynasty as had been predicted by its finder.
The Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911), who commissioned work on the imperial gardens on the hill in 1749, gave Longevity Hill its present-day name in 1752, in celebration of his mother's 60th birthday.
The Summer Palace started out life as the 'Garden of Clear Ripples' (simplified Chinese: 清漪园; traditional Chinese: 清漪園; pinyin: Qīngyī Yuán) in 1750 (Reign Year 15 of Qianlong Emperor). Artisans reproduced the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China. Kunming Lake was created by extending an existing body of water to imitate the West Lake in Hangzhou. The palace complex suffered two major attacks—during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 (with the Old Summer Palace also ransacked at the same time), and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902. In 1888, it was given the current name, Yihe Yuan. It served as a summer resort for Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted 30 million taels of silver, said to be originally designated for the Chinese navy (Beiyang Fleet), into the reconstruction and enlargement of the Summer Palace.
This diversion of funds away from military sources came just six years before the first First Sino-Japanese War which China lost.
On its southern slope, Longevity Hill is adorned with an ensemble of grand buildings: The Cloud-Dispelling Hall, the Temple of Buddhist Virtue, and the Sea of Wisdom Temple form a south-north (lakeside - peak) oriented axis which is flanked by various other buildings. In the center of the Temple of Buddhist Virtue stands the Tower of Buddhist Incense (Fo Xiang Ge), which forms the focal point for the buildings on the southern slope of Longevity Hill. The tower is built on a 20-meter-tall stone base, is 41 meters high with three stories and supported by eight ironwood (lignumvitae) pillars.
The Summer Palace is located northwest of Beijing's center in Haidian District, between the Fourth and Fifth Ring Roads. Head north at Suzhou Bridge on the north-western 3rd Ring Road, north at Sihai Bridge on the north-western 4th Ring Road, or south at the northern 5th Ring Road at the Zhongguancun/Beiqing Road exit. Public transportation also serves the Summer Palace.
- East Gate at Tongqing St. and Yiheyuan St.: Beijing Subway Xiyuan Station (Line 4); Beijing Bus routes 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, 394, 579, 601, 608, 683, 696, 718
- North Gate at Yiheyuan Rd. and Qinglongqiao East St.: Beijing Subway Beigongmen Station (Line 4); Beijing Bus routes 303, 330, 331, 346, 375, 384, 498, 563, 601, 608, 683, 696, 697, 718, 特5, 特10.
- West Gate at Jinhe Rd. and Yiheyuan Ximen Rd.: Beijing Bus routes 469, 539
The Marble Boat on the grounds of the Summer Palace.
Standing atop the Longevity Hill, the Tower of Buddhist Incense is the highest building in the Summer Palace.
Decorated Paifang in Summer Palace
Bronze Qilin statue inside the Summer Palace
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