World Cultural Heritage – the Summer Palace in Beijing

  • offcial website of Beijing Expo 2019  2017-Sep-14 11:27:51

“The Summer Palace in Beijing was built in A.D. 1750, badly damaged in the war in 1860, and renovated at the original site in 1886. With artificial landscape including pavilions, long corridors, halls, temples and small bridges, etc., integrating with natural mountains and open lake surface harmoniously and artistically, it can be rated as a masterpiece of design of Chinese landscape garden.” The above is a comment made by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization when the Summer Palace in Beijing was included as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1998.

The Summer Palace in Beijing, formerly known as Garden of Clear Ripples and located at the foot of Western Hills of Beijing, is the imperial palace and garden of the emperors and empresses of the Qing Dynasty of China, as well as the last one of “three mountains and five gardens” of the earlier Qing Dynasty. Covering an area of 2.97 square kilometers, the Summer Palace in Beijing has a major structure which consists of two parts including the Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, and the lake covers three fourths of the total area of the palace. There are more than 3,000 palace garden buildings in various forms, and more than 100 landscapes in total. They are roughly divided into five areas: Scenic Area of the Emperor’s Bedchambers, Scenic Area of the Kunming Lake, Scenic Area of the Front Longevity Hill, Scenic Area of the Longevity Hill and Scenic Area of the Back Longevity Hill.

Scenic Area of the Emperor’s Bedchambers is located inside the gate of the Eastern Palace of the Summer Palace in Beijing, centered on the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. Hall of Benevolence and Longevity is the place where the emperor of the Qing Dynasty handled state and foreign affairs. Hall of Joyful Longevity is the place where Empress Dowager Cixi lived. Hall of Jade Ripples is the place where Emperor Guangxu lived. Besides, it also includes the great theater stage of Garden of Harmonious Virtue which had a great influence on formation and development of Chinese Peking Opera.

Scenic Area of the Kunming Lake is the largest scenic area of the palace. There are three islands in the lake which symbolize Penglai, Fangzhang and Yingzhou where the immortals live. The layout of three islands is the embodiment of the traditional Chinese mode of “one pool and three mountains”. The eastern shore of the lake is the East Dike on which there are Kunlun Stele, Kuoru Pavilion and Brazen Bull, etc. Among them, built across the beautiful Hengyi Lake, 17-Arch Bridge is the shortcut to the South Lake Island which is the largest among three islands. The West Dike is located on the west side of the lake. There are several rows of smoke-like willows and six arch bridges in completely different styles on the dike.

Centered on the Tower of Buddhist Incense, Scenic Area of the Front Longevity Hill creates the grand-scale and impressive building groups which rises gradually for the whole palace. Starting from the long corridors lying by the lake, upward from “Yunhuiyuyu” Archway step by step, through Hall of Dispelling Clouds and Dehui Hall, you can reach the Tower of Buddhist Incense. Hall of the Sea of Wisdom which is on the highest point is located on the top of the Longevity Hill. The whole group of buildings on the central axis thoroughly exhibits tremendous momentum and magnificence, as well as symmetry and preciseness, which makes it the model of royal garden making.

The Scenic Area of the Longevity Hill, consisting of several groups of buildings scattered on the west side of the Tower of Buddhist Incense, is the strong foil for the buildings on the central axis. Among these buildings, Boat of Clearness and Comfort is a fixed boat made of marble, but its cabin was converted into western-style building from Chinese style; the great theater stage of Hall for Listening to Orioles was converted into sitting northward from sitting southward; Tour into the Painting consists of three pavilions, two buildings, a room (zhai) and another room (fang). Connecting by the climbing corridors, all groups of buildings show various landscapes as tourists move from one place to another, which makes tourists feel like traveling in a painting.

The Scenic Area of the Back Longevity Hill is distinctly characteristic, with the central scenic area of building group of four continents on the central axis of the back mountain. Four continents have the architectural style which integrates Han and Tibetan style, with Big Red Platform and Lamaist Pagoda. It was planned and built based on the Buddhist Scriptures’ understanding of the world.

Located inside the gate of the Northern Palace, Suzhou Street is a building group based on bazaars of water town in Jiangnan. With the main line of Houxi River and form of a river and two streets, it became the unique one among existing palace bazaars; The Garden of Harmonious Interests which is located in the northeast corner of the Summer Palace in Beijing is a garden in a garden with southern garden style.

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