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Yuanmingyuan (Old Summer Palace)

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  • Old Summer Palace, Beijing
    Old Summer Palace, Beijing
  • Beijing Old Summer Palace
    Beijing Old Summer Palace
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    Cultural Relics
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    White Marble Stone Fish
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    12 Bronze Symbolic Animals
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    Bronze Animal Heads
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As the renowned imperial garden throughout the world, the Yuanmingyuan (otherwise known as the Old Summer Palace) is located just outside the west gate of Tsinghua University, north of Peking University, and east of the New Summer Palace. It covers an area of 865 acres (350 hectares), five times the area of the Forbidden City.

In 1707 Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) began to construct the palace known as Yu Yuan (Imperial Gardens), but it was only on a small scale at that time. The Garden was intended as a gift for the emperor's fourth son Yongzheng. In 1725 during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng, the great expansion of the grounds went well under way. The superb waterworks were introduced to the gardens to help create some of the streams, ponds and lakes which greatly matched the rolling hills and grounds. Yongzheng also named 28 scenic spots within the garden. After the next Emperor Qianlong took the throne, the garden was largely expanded for another time, as he was quite interested in it, he added some exotic elements to the garden by hiring two Jesuit architects to design the European styles. What is more, there were several Tibetan and Mongol style buildings in the palace. Qianlong increased the number of the scenic spots up to 40.

The Imperial Gardens consisted of three gardens, the Garden of Perfect Brightness proper, the Garden of Eternal Spring and the Elegant Spring Garden. In the prime period of the Old Summer Palace, it was a treasure house of Chinese art and literature. It was fully stored with curios, jade articles, paintings, books, jewelry, precious porcelain and handcrafts of all kinds, making it one of the largest museums in the world. The library collected a copy of Four Complete Volumes of Chinese Classics with 79,003 volumes and 853,453 pages. The largest lake, the 'Sea of Fortune', covered an area of 69 acres and was encircled by more than 60 scenic places.

Under the fierce invasion by Anglo French forces in 1860, the Old Summer Palace was devastated on a large scale. Some precious relics were looted and are now in display in foreign countries. It was in the 1980s that Chinese government designated it as the historical site under national protection. Visitors going there can imagine the magnificence and delicacy of Chinese artwork from the ruined sites. The picture of Yuanmingyuan in its prime period is exhibited for visitors to enjoy.

 Entrance Fee: CNY 25 (CNY 10 for the entrance fee, CNY 15 for the Dashuifa Sites in the garden) 

 Opening Hours: 07:00 - 19:00 (Apr. to Oct.);  07:00 - 17:30 (Nov. to Mar.)

 Bus Routes:
A. Take Bus No. T4, Yuntong 105, Yuntong 205, 365, 432, 656, 681, 699, 717, 743, 814, 957 or 982 and get off at the East Gate of Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan Dongmen).
B. Take Bus No. T6, 319, 320, 331, 432, 438, 498, 628, 664, 696, 697 or 826 and get off at the South Gate of Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan Nanmen).

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