WHS: Summer Palace Imperial Garden, Beijing, China

Working our way to the center of modern China now, our next few visits will be to the World Heritage Sites around the capital of Beijing; and today, we’re out in the northwest of the modern city at:

Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing

Summer Palace


The Summer Palace in Beijing integrates numerous traditional halls and pavilions into the Imperial Garden conceived by the Qing emperor Qianlong between 1750 and 1764 as the Garden of Clear Ripples. Using Kunming Lake, the former reservoir of the Yuan dynasty’s capital and Longevity Hill as the basic framework, the Summer Palace combined political and administrative, residential, spiritual, and recreational functions within a landscape of lakes and mountains, in accordance with the Chinese philosophy of balancing the works of man with nature.

Destroyed during the Second Opium War of the 1850s, it was reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu for use by Empress Dowager Cixi and renamed the Summer Palace. Although damaged again during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 it was restored and has been a public park since 1924.

The central feature of the Administrative area, the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity is approached through the monumental East Palace Gate. The connecting Residential area comprises three building complexes: the Halls of Happiness in Longevity, Jade Ripples and Yiyun, all built up against the Hill of Longevity, with fine views over the lake. These are linked by roofed corridors which connect to the Great Stage to the east and the Long Corridor to the West. In front of the Hall of Happiness in Longevity a wooden quay gave access by water for the Imperial family to their quarters…

The lead picture there is the Tower of Buddhist Incense which tops Longevity Hill the highest point of the park. It’ll be the first thing you climb if you do your visit the way we did: Take subway line 4 to Beigongmen, and exit from D, and it’s just a couple minutes walk west to the North Palace Gate:

Summer Palace

which brings you to the back of the hill,

Summer Palace

and docks from which you can catch water tours of the lake

Summer Palace

or climb and watch them from above.

Summer Palace

That’s the Seventeen-Arch Bridge connecting to Nanhu Island.


p dir=”ltr”>While we wouldn’t put this as an absolute must see in Beijing — you need to spend several days in Beijing to get through even the most famous must sees! — if you do have an afternoon to spare, it is a very nice park and an excellent example of how traditional Chinese design integrates buildings into the landscape!


About Author


I go places.


  1. […] if you judge “largest” by “area enclosed by fortified walls” the 178-odd acres of the Summer Palace right here in Beijing. But however you measure, it’s very big […]

Leave a Reply