This is the second magnificent park which I saw in Beijing. This is not a park actually, it’s the summer palace, was once the summer imperial palace of the Empress Cixi, which is also called Yiheyuan or the Garden of Cultivated Harmony. It was built in the second half of 19th century by the Empress Cixi, one of the powerful figures of the Chinese history. In the middle of the disputes of the heredity and right after the Opium War, she took the power and used the money which was intended to build the Chinese fleet this picturesque palace.
Lake Kunmig covers most part of the palace on the south. The north has a different architectural design with the canals and with the Hill of Longevity. It’s better to start the journey in the morning hours, from the north of the palace, thus you’ll see the old citizens doing their morning tai-chi sports and you will still have the energy to climb the rocks leading to the hill. At the north and around the hill you will see some giant buddhist temples – Temple of the Fragrance of Buddha is the most famous, and have a panorama of the lake and the palace from the top. Once you’ll be down, you’ll find yourself most probably walking under the roofs of the long corridor, a light and elegant wooden construction of 700 metres along the side of the lake where the ceilings and the rafters are decorated with colourful bird and flowers motifs. You may end your trip under these roofs at the point where you’ll admire the grandeur of the Marble Boat of the Empress (it was under renovation unfortunately while I was there).
And at the end of my short trip to there – because it may take a full day!- the calmness of the park had left its place to the tourist crowds and to the unbearable heat. It was time to leave but it’s one of the places in Beijing where I would definitely return one day!
Canals on the north of the palace…
View from the Longevity Hill
Beautiful decoration on the Long Corridor
Stone bridge on the south of the palace