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Hall of Spiritual Cultivation, Hall of Joyful Longevity & Bower of Well-nourished Harmony

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Hall of Spiritual Cultivation (Yangxingdian)
Crossing through the Palace of Tranquil Longevity and the Gate of Spiritual Cultivation, you will arrive at the Hall of Spiritual Cultivation. Built in 1772, it was prepared by Emperor Qianlong for his later years after the abdication. It was built according to the Hall of Mental Cultivation, but smaller and with different layout.

The Hall of Spiritual Cultivation is dignified and solemn. At the center of the ceiling is a coffer decorated with a golden Coiling Dragon. The main hall was the place where the emperors read the memorials to the throne, called in and assigned officials, and received vassals of the dependent states. From the interior decorations and furnishings, there is little difference from the Hall of Mental Cultivation.

Before the abdication, Emperor Qianlong held many banquets in the Hall of Spiritual Cultivation, entertaining with the dukes, ministers and leaders of the vassal states. Empress Dowager Cixi had also made the east warmth chamber as her dining place. Now, the east warmth chamber is an elegant study, exhibited with the four treasures of study (writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper), ancient books and zithers.

Nowadays, the Hall of Spiritual Cultivation has been made as the No. 4 Treasure Exhibition Room, displayed with 11 pieces of cultural relics for the rites of the imperial family. The exhibits are very valuable, covering the sacrifices, throne ascending, wedding ceremony, diplomacy and funeral ceremony. Among them, there is a jade chime, made of high-quality green Hetian jade of Xinjiang. It consists of 12 pieces, which forms 12 tones and produces clear and melodious sound, regarded as an invaluable national treasure. Visitors can learn more about the feudal etiquettes of ancient China in this hall.

Hall of Joyful Longevity (Leshoutang)
The Hall of Joyful Longevity was also prepared by Emperor Qianlong for his life after the abdication. It was built in 1772, and was repaired in 1802 and 1891. Empress Dowager Cixi had lived here and had made the west warmth chamber her bedroom. She also summoned the dukes, ministers and envoys from foreign countries in this hall.

At present, the Hall of Joyful Longevity has been turned into the No. 5 Treasure Exhibition Room, exhibiting 26 pieces of furnishings of the royal family. In the past, these exhibitions were mostly furnished in the bedrooms and studies of the imperial palace. Most of them were made of gold, silver, gemstones and jewelry, with unique designs and almost supernatural workmanship. With auspiciousness as the theme, these articles symbolize wealth and festival.

The most precious cultural relic in the Hall of Joyful Longevity is the colorful jade mountain set in the central part of the north hall, which is the biggest jade carving in the Forbidden City. There are also two other jade sculptures in the hall. One is named Shoushan (Longevity Hill), and the other is named Fuhai (Sea of Auspiciousness). It’s said they were made as presents for Empress Dowager Cixi’s birthday.

Bower of Well-nourished Harmony (Yihexuan)
Passing through the Hall of Joyful Longevity, you will arrive at Bower of Well-nourished Harmony (Yihexuan ). Emperor Qianlong named it 'Yihe' (Well-nourished Harmony) in the hope that he would live a happy life in his later years.

There is a sundial on the left side of platform in the front of the Bower of Well-nourished Harmony. The platform joins with the Hall of Joyful Longevity through a gravel path. On both sides of the path are flower ponds of colored glaze.

Seen from the map of the Forbidden City, the Bower of Well-nourished Harmony is located in the northeast corner of the Forbidden City. Far from the palaces that symbolize the political powers, it is indeed a quiet and peaceful place for retreat. Obviously, Emperor Qianlong really thought hard to choose a place for his later life. However, the fact is that he still held the real powers in spite of giving up the throne.

The present Bower of Well-nourished Harmony has been developed into the No. 6 Treasure Exhibition Room, where are exhibited 14 Buddhist cultural relics used by the royal family. Among them, the golden pagoda set with pearls and gemstones is a masterpiece of the Buddhist pagodas made by the Qing Court. It was made of 85 thousand grams of gold, with 293 pearls and over 500 colored gemstones interspersing in it, appearing very magnificent.

 Go to the Next Attraction: Gate of Divine Prowess

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