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The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace , also named as The Garden of Harmonious Nature in China is one of the World's cultural heritage site and one of China 's AAAA first-class scenic spots. Located about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) to the northwest of downtown Beijing , the Summer Palace is China 's largest Royal garden existed. Known far and wide for its architectural splendor and natural beauty, this imperial garden contains 60 meter high Longevity Hill in the north, a wide expanse Kunming Lake in the south, 795 yard (727 meters) long corridor along the north bank of the lake, and spectacular buildings of different shapes and sizes.

The Summer Palace was originally a summer retreat place of Emperor Qianlong in Qing dynasty, known as the Garden of Clear Ripples (or Qing Yi Park). It was destroyed during the Second Opium War in 1860. Empress Cixi restored it for her summer retreat in 1888 and named it the Summer Palace . In 1900 it was damaged again during the Boxer Rebellion. But it was rebuilt shortly after and became a public park in 1924. It is a collection of Chinese classical architecture and garden design that displays the craftsmanship and artistic elegance of Chinese people.

Dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake , the Summer Palace covers an area of 3 square kilometers (1.16 square miles), three quarters of which is the lake. Kunming Lake adapted the architectural and landscaping style in the south-east of China . There are more than 3000 various ancient buildings, pavilions, courts, halls, Temples scattered around the lake and the hill. There are also more than 20 various sizes of garden courtyard. The Summer Palace is a masterpiece that inherited both the traditional imperial garden design and Chinese private landscape garden design. The strong impression of the mountains combined with the graceful charm of the water created a sumptuous palace for the emperor yet retained the sophisticated essence of the private garden.

The Summer Palace Layout

There are three main parts in the Summer Palace – political activity area, private residence area, and scenery area. The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity is the main part of the political activity area, where Cixi dealt with political affairs. The Hall of Jade Billows, Garden of Virtue and Harmony, and the Hall of Joyful Longevity are places where Cixi and other family members resided. The Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake are the main scenery area.

Entering through the East gate, Kunming lakes lies to the South and is decorated with elegant pavilions and arched bridges. “Seventeen Arch Bridge ” is one of the most famous landmarks in the Summer Palace . The Long Gallery runs west along the north bank of the Kunming Lake from the East gate to the Shizhang Pavilion. There are more than 8000 paintings decorated the Gallery's ceiling and the beams. There is a saying that no pair of lovers can walk through the Long Gallery without becoming betrothed.

Longevity Hill is on the north of the Long Corridor next to the West Lake . It is topped by the Sea of Wisdom Temple where you can get a magnificent view to the lake.

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