The Summer Palace situated in the northwestern outskirt of Beijing, about 15 kilometers away from the downtown area of Beijing. As one of the Four Most Gardens of China, the Summer Palace is a grandest integral imperial garden, therefore, it is praised as the "Royal Garden Museum". This former imperial garden with an area of 12,900,000 square meters contains about 3000 hills, palaces and gardens. The construction of the Summer Palace once called Qinqyiyuan (Garden of Clear Ripples) began in 1750 and completed in 1764.
In 1860, the Anglo-French Allied troupes destroyed the Qingyiyuan. In 1888, the Empress Dowager Cixi misappropriated the navy funds about 1.5 millions kilogram of silver to rebuild the garden and renamed it the Summer Palace. In 1900, the Summer Palace was destroyed by the Anglo-French Allied force again and many building were completely burnt out. In 1903, the garden was renovated. However, it was once again destroyed in successive years of tangled warfare among warlords.
The Summer Palace, dominated mainly by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, drew on the Chinese traditional arts of garden construction and borrowed the view of natural mountains and water landscape. In this way, it seems that the garden was created by nature rather than by human. The golden glory of pavilions and halls, the rich verdure of hills and rippling water of lake combine to engender the feeling in visitors that they are walking in the heaven. So the Summer Palace is definitely a gem of the traditional Chinese art of garden construction. Centering on the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, the garden includes hundreds of building, about 20 courtyards, and 3,555 ancient constructions among which the Long Corridor, Stone Boat, Suzhou Street and Garden of Harmonious Interests are best-known to all. Many kinds of old and precious trees and flowers grow in the garden.
The Summer Palace can be separated into three parts, political activities zone, the living zone and the entertaining zone. The political zone, led by Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, is the venue for major political and diplomatic affairs. The living zone, represented by Hall of Happiness and Longevity, is the place where the Empress Dowager Cixi, Emperor Guangxu and his imperial concubines lived. The entertaining area is comprised of the place along the Long Corridor, and west area.
In 1961, the Summer Palace became one of national key cultural preservation centers. In 1998, it was selected on the World Heritage List. In 2007, it was approved as the 5A tourist attraction.
Admission Fee: 30RMB (high season), 20RMB (low season)
Open Time: 6:30 – 18:00 (high season), 7:00-17:00 (low season)