Yuanming Garden (Old Summer Palace) is located in the northwest suburb of Beijing City and east of Haiding District. It is a world-renowned royal garden. The ichnographic structure is like Chinese Character Pin in converse. It is composed of three parts. They are Yuanmingyuan Garden, Changchunyuan Garden, and Yichunyuan Garden. The total area is up to 350 hectares, in which the land area coverage is equal to the area of Imperial Palace, and the water area is equivalent to Summer Palace.
Origin of name
Emperor Kangxi who wrote three characters of it in Chinese calligraphy named it Yuanmingyuan Garden. Why did the emperor name it Yuanmingyuan Garden? The reasons could be categorized into two parts: firstly Chinese Character Yuan means the perfection of human morality which surpasses what the commoners have; secondly the Chinese Character Ming means the advisability, perfection and extension of political achievement. In other words, such an explanation is the ideal standard of respectable emperor and virtuous ministers of feudalistic society.
The Characteristics of Garden Architecture
Yuanmingyuan Garden gathered the obvious characteristics of some typical famous gardens from regions of southern Yangtze River. It integrates the core of Chinese ancient arts and techniques of horticulture. Adopting the technique of building inner gardens in exterior gardens, the builders harmoniously integrated the image of poetics and paintings with changeable scenery. The southern part of Yuanmingyuan Garden was used for government. Among the diversity of sceneries, there are more than 50 scenic spots imitating the famous gardern of other places such as ten sceneries of West Lake in Hangzhou. What is more interesting is that some gardens are designed to be westernized. The most famous westernized one is Guanshuifa, a western-style fountain. It is typically characterized by Italian Renaissance style. At the center of lake, there is a Venice-city model, and the emperor could sit beside the lake and appreciate the landscape of water-city thousands of miles away from China. In 1860, the union army of UK and France ransacked this Garden. The buildings were fired and antiques were robbed, the miraculous and mythical Yuanmingyuan Garden was burned into a wasteland.
The art features
Yuanmingyuan Garden is a hall collecting enormous treasures, celebrities' scriptures, calligraphy works and paintings, jewelry, silver and gold wares, and vases and so on. It densely shows the essence of Chinese ancient culture. It was also the garden gathering varieties of rare trees and plants. Visitors who visited this garden directly called it "the King of All the Gardens in the World."
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