Summer Palace is located in the northwest suburb of Haidian district in Beijing City. Based on Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, artisans of that time adopted some designing techniques and images from gardens of southern Yangtze River and scenery of West Lake of Hangzhou. It is also the best-preserved and largest-scale royal garden in China. It is one of China’s four famous gardens. The others include Summer Vacation Mountain Village in Chengde, Liu Garden and Zhuozheng Garden in Suzhou. It is the emperor's xanadu. During latter-day period, it was seriously destroyed by wars but restored by people repeatedly.
Summer Palace absorbs and takes the essence of traditional garden-designing techniques. The basic structure is relying on the layout of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. Via surrounding environment of mountains and waters, it reveals magnificence and vigor of China’s royal garden. Although it is man-made, it is seemingly designed by nature. All the corridors, halls, temples, and bridges are harmoniously integrated together. Its splendid and outstanding designing in art makes it an authority in China’s garden-architecture and famous all over the world. Summer palace is extremely large. It covers 2.97 square kilometers. It is chiefly composed of Longevity hill and Kunming Lake. The waters cover three quarters of the total area. Foxiang Pavilion is centered among the other garden buildings.
The scenery of the garden generally could be divided into three parts: The elegance and holiness of Renshou Hall is used for politics. It is the main location for Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu to deal with domestic affairs and diplomatic activities. The courtyards, such as Leshoutang, Yunnantang and Yiyunguan, are used as Cixi, Emperor Guangxu and his concubines’ residences. The scenic spots comprise Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. It is used for the emperor and his concubines' amusement and enjoyment. Kunming Lake situated south of Longevity Hill covers three- fourths of this garden. Over Kunming Lake, seventeen grand arch-bridges look like the rainbow crossing over the waters. The bridges are serpentine and look like an emerald green belt. The ancient constructions are built among the trees, waters, and hills. The whole environment leads people to celestial hills on the sea. The trace of the southern sceneries of Yangze River can be seen in this garden.
Chinese people in the old days would pay special attention to Fengshui and Eight Diagrams before they built up a house. It indeed contains many intangible culture and tradition. In 1998, thanks to its long history and abundant cultural meaning, beautiful and natural landscapes, and excellent protection and management, it is successfully accepted into the world heritage list by UNESCO.
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