The Summer Palace is roughly fifteen kilometres (or nine miles) outside of Beijing, and it is the largest and best-preserved royal garden in all of China.
Over the course of its existence, the Summer Palace has been around for over 800 years. Prior to the construction of the Summer Palace, an earlier imperial palace known as the Golden Hill Palace occupied the same site during the early part of the Jin dynasty. The Garden of Clear Ripples was erected on the site of Golden Hill Palace in 1750 by Emperor Qian Long of the Qing dynasty. It took 4.48 million taels of silver to complete the project. In honour of his mother’s birthday, he decided to rebrand the area as Longevity Hill and give it a new moniker.
During the opium wars, the majority of the palace and its surrounding gardens were levelled. In the year 1888, the Empress Dowager Cixi took money that belonged to the Imperial Navy and used it to rebuild the garden. It took 10 years to build this brand-new garden, and after it was finished, it was given the name Yiheyuan as a commemoration of its accomplishment (Garden of Peace and Harmony). Once again, in the year 1900, the eight powers pillaged the garden, but this time almost all of the great temples and halls that were located at the rear of Longevity Hill were destroyed, and only one of them managed to be saved. The repair process didn’t get back on track until Cixi made her way back to Beijing in 1903 while she was still on the run.
The modern Summer Palace has a total area of 294 hectares, of which 75 percent is comprised of water. The majority of the Summer Palace is made up of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. One may conceptualise the garden as having three distinct areas: the administrative area, the residential area, and the picturesque area. The administrative section is principally made up of the Halls of Benevolence and Longevity. This is where Cixi held important receptions and administered the state’s business operations. The residential section is comprised of the Garden of Virtue and Harmony, the Hall of Joyful Longevity, and the Hall of Jade Billows, all of which are halls. The Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill are the components of the picturesque landscape that make it so beautiful.
The Summer Palace may be accessed by either the East Palace Gate or the North Palace Gate. Both of these gates are located on opposite sides of the palace. The vast majority of guests that come to the Summer Palace enter via the East Palace Gate.
Despite the fact that they all have distinctive architectural styles, the man-made hills, halls, pavilions, and temples that surround Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill come together in a way that is visually pleasing. The garden is known for having the “soul” of Chinese gardens due to the fact that it has numerous distinctive elements that are typical of gardens located in both northern and southern China. The Summer Palace is located in Beijing.
After being completely reconstructed in 1903, the Summer Building is essentially the same palace as it was before. The price of entry to the garden has been brought down to a point where the majority of people can now afford it. As a result, this once-imperial park has the potential to become the ideal site for Beijing residents to escape the city’s sweltering summers.