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Longevity Hill - Scattered Sights Area

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Serving as the place for the royal family’s sightseeing, the Longevity Hill-Scattered Sights Area comprise the Hall of Utmost Blessing (Jingfu Ge), Purple Cloud Tower (Ziqi Donglai Chengguan), Cloud Cultivating Pavilion (Yangyun Xuan), Hall for Listening to Orioles (Tingli Guan), Strolling through a Picture Scroll (Huazhongyou), True Meanings of the Scenery (Hushan Zhenyi) and Marble Boat or Clear and Peaceful Boat (Qingyan Fang). These buildings are perfect adornments for those laid along the central axis of the Longevity Hill. By contrast with the solemn and magnificent main buildings in the Summer Palace, these dotted ones appear more casual, active and lovely, with diverse structure and styles. 

 Hall of Utmost Blessing (Jingfu Ge)
Originally named Pavilion of Epiphyllum (Tanhua Ge), the Hall of Utmost Blessing was destroyed during the war in 1860, and was refurbished and given the present named in the 8th year of Emperor Guangxu in 1892. It is a three-storey building in the shape of a six-petal lotus flower. Its front part is a spacious hall covering an area of 200 square meters (239 square yards). The floor of the hall was paved with bricks decorated with colorful paintings, which makes the hall capacious, bright and palatial. In late Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911), Empress Dowager Cixi held banquets to treat the dependents of the foreign envoys in the hall sometimes. On the Double Seventh Festival every year, she would offer sacrifices to Niulang (cowherd) and Zhinv (weaving girl) here. On Mid-autumn Festival and the Double Ninth Festival, she would also enjoy the glorious full moon and embrace the autumn in the hall. 

 Purple Cloud Tower (Ziqi Donglai Chengguan)
Purple Cloud Tower is located at the eastern piedmont of the Longevity Hill, standing erect in between two peaks. Climbing up to it, you can overlook the ponds and pavilions inside the Garden of Harmonious Pleasures (Xiequ Yuan). Besides a sight-viewing spot, it also served as one of the divisional defense strongholds of the Summer Palace in the past. 

 Cloud Cultivating Pavilion (Yangyun Xuan)
On the west of the Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Leshou Tang), east of the Hall of Dispelling Clouds (Paiyun Dian), and north of the Long Corridor, there is an independent five-room courtyard, which is the most legendary place in the Summer Palace - Cloud Cultivating Pavilion. It was the resting place for the imperial concubines and princesses when Empress Dowager Cixi visited the Summer Palace. Its name Cloud Cultivating Pavilion means a pavilion for collecting clouds to cultivate spirits. The pavilion, a quadrangle courtyard, is one of the few remaining buildings constructed during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. It lies at the foot of a hill, next to the Long Corridor, and faces a lake. The pine smoke and miasma on the hill gather into the clouds and mists, and flow into the pavilion with the breezes. The mist over the water moves to the lake shore in the morning and evening. Thus, the spirits of the hill and water meet and merge with each other in the floating clouds and mists. Walking into the long corridor immersed in the spiritual 'clouds' is just like entering in a 'fairyland'. 

 Hall for Listening to Orioles (Tingli Guan)
Located at the southern piedmont of the Longevity Hill, the Hall for Listening to Orioles is one of the thirteen important buildings of the summer palace. The hall faces the rippling Kunming Lake, with the Long Corridor in front. It was once a major place for Empress Dowager Cixi and her minions to indulge in music and to seek pleasure. The music was so pleasant to the ears, like the chirping of the orioles, hence the name 'Hall for Listening to Orioles'. The hall was set up in 1754, destroyed in 1860, and was restored and the orientation changed in 1892. After the founding of the People's Republic in 1949, the hall was designated as a specific place for the reception of central cadres and foreign dignitaries. Now, it has become a reputed restaurant exclusively for imperial dishes in Beijing. It also serves as a place for visitors to rest and dine in the Summer Palace. 

 Strolling through a Picture Scroll (Huazhongyou)
The Strolling through a Picture Scroll is situated in the west part in front of the Longevity Hill, consisting of three pavilions, two towers, one hall and one memorial archway. All of the buildings were built upon the local conditions and in different colors, and were connected by hillside corridors, presenting an all-encompassing view of the surrounding area. Together they make up an architectural group of particular features, very much like a Chinese painting. 

 True Meanings of the Scenery (Hushan Zhenyi)
The True Meaning of the Scenery is at the back of northeast corner of the Strolling through a Picture Scroll. It was built in the years under Emperor Qianlong’s reign, and was called 'Hall of Clearing Voice’ (Qingyin Shanguan) originally. Emperor Qianlong often came here to appreciate music. The fancy of it lies in the full use of borrowing scenery technique in ancient Chinese architecture. 

Marble Boat
Marble Boat

 Marble Boat or Clear and Peaceful Boat (Qingyan Fang)
In classic Chinese gardens, where there is water, there is a boat. If the boat is made of stone, there is no need to worry it might float away with the stream even if it is not tied with a rope. That is why the Marble Boat, also called Clear and Peaceful Boat (Qingyan Fang), was made in the Summer Palace. The boat is situated at the northwestern shore of the Kunming Lake and the west piedmont of the Longevity Hill. It was made in 1775, regarded as a rare treasure of over-water building, and the only western style building in the Summer Palace. The body of the boat, 36 meters long (39 yards), was carved out of a huge rock. The cabin of the boat was of ancient architecture style at first. During the reconstruction in 1893, it was changed into western style with colorful glass set in the windows, appealing to Cixi’s hobby.

Besides the major buildings mentioned above, there are many other small sights that are worth noticing in the Longevity Hill-Scattered Sights Area. They are, for example, the Painting the Autumn Chamber (Xieqiu Xuan), the Chamber of Cloud and Pine (Yunsong Chao), the Shaowo Hall (Shaowo Dian) which was regarded as “a cozy nest” for the imperial family, the Chamber of the Pleasure of Farming (Lenong Xuan) and the Chamber of Eternal Scenery (Wujinyi Xian).

 Go to the Next: Scenic Area of 'Pictures of Farming and Weaving' 

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