The Old Summer Palace, known in China as Yuan Ming Yuan (the Gardens of Perfect Brightness), and originally called the Imperial Gardens, was a complex of palaces and gardens in Beijing. It is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) northwest of the walls of the Imperial City, built in the 18th and early 19th century, where the emperors of the Qing Dynasty resided and handled government affairs (the Forbidden City was used for formal ceremonies).
As it is a public holiday today, it is free admission for all.
Decided to take the boat ride for RMB 20 per person single way, after checking out that it will take 40 minutes to get to the end of the park.
Here comes the boat.
Our boatman handling the boat.
Stop to change to another boat.
Yangquelong (Bird Cage)
The Bird Cage was built in 1759 (the 24th year of the reign of the Emperor Qianlong). The central room was a gate and the south and the north sides kept lots of exotic birds presented by foreign countries. Outside the east and west doors of the Bird Cage were small water spraying towers and to the north of the cage was a European-style warehouse.
To the east of the Bird Cage was a two story three room European style building. Initially, the place was called the Sanjianlou (Three-Room Building) of the newly-built Shuifa Hall. The name “Fangwaiguan” first appeared in the copperplate. Historical records indicate that Fangwaiguan was the then changed into a mosque for imperial concubine Rong (Fragrant Concubine) to attend religious service. There were two stone tablets inside Fangwaiguan, inscribed with Islamic teachings.
Haiyantang (Haiyan Hall)
Haiyan Hall was the largest garden sight in the Xiyanglou Area. It was built in 1759 (the 24th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong). The main building faced the west and had 11 rooms on both floors. On both sides of the frot door were two arc terraced fountains, which led to a large fountain downstairs. Bronze statues of human bodies with animal heads, representing the 12 symbolic animals assoicated with a 12-year cycle of human births, were arranged around the large fountain. Each of these animals, jetted water for two hours in the sequence of China’s 12 two-hour time-dividing system, and all the animals jetted water simultaneously at noontime. As a result, it was also called the Water Clock. Behind the Haiyan Hall was an I-shaped building, which suppiled water to the nearby fountains.
Three of the bronze heads are now respectively in France and Taiwan, while the heads of ox, tiger, monkey and pig are in custody of the Baoli Art Museum.
Reservoir of Haiyantang
There was a I-shaped builidng behind the Haiyantan, which used to be the Water Tower of the fountains, water-lifting devices were installed at both ends of the east and west. The existing high convex terrace was the foundation of the reservoir. The reservoir, commonly known as “Tin Sea’, was made of tin. It used to be a Reservoir of 160 cubic meters.
Dashuifa, built in 1759 (the 24th year of the reign Emperor Qianlong), was a garden sight featuring fountains. The main building was a huge stone shrine, in front of which were a lion head fountain producing a seven-level waterfall and an oval-shaped chrysanthemum fountain. In the middle of the fountain was a bronze spotted deer, whose horns jetted out eight water sprouts. On both sides of the deer were 10 bronze dogs that also jetted water sprouts to the body of the deer. This meant the hounds pursuing the deer. Dashuifa had a large European style fountain on each side of its front.
Guanshifa, built in 1759 (the 24th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong), was a place for the Qing emperors to appreciate the Dashuifa Fountain. Guanshuifa had an imperial throne on the stone terrace in its middle, baked by five large stone screens which had the carvings depicting the European military flags, armors, swords and guns. On each side of the stone screens stood a white marble square pagoda.
After Yuanmingyuan wasruined, the five stone screens and the two square pagodas at Guanshuifa were found in Beijing University. They were carried back and placed at the original places in 1977.
Xiyanglou Area (European Buildings)
In the northern part of Changchunyuan once stood a European-style garden, commonly called Xiyanglou (European Buildings). The 70,000-square meter garden had over 10 buildings and courtyards, respectively called Xieqiqu, Xianfaqiao, Huanghuazhen, Yangquelong, Fangwaiguan, Haiyantang, Yuanyingguan, Dashuifa, Guanshuifa, Xinfashan and Xianfahua. Planning began in 1747 (the 12th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong) and construction was largerly completed in 1759 (the 24th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong). It was designed under the guidance of Italian painter Giuseppe Castiglione and French missionary Michel Benoist, and was built by Chinese craftsmen. The architectural style was Baroque and the landscaping was Le Notre. Its landscaping and architectural decorations also embodied lots of traditional Chinese technique. In its heydays of Xiyanglou, the Qing imperial court made a set of copper plates, comprising 20 elevation perspective architectural drawings. Drawn by Yi Lantai, an imperial court painter from the Man ethnic group, these copperplates were carved by the craftsmen of the Imperial Workshop.
In 1860 when the allied forces of Britian and France burnt Yuanmingyuan to ruins, most of these European-style halls and pavilions partially survived because they had been mainly built with stone materials. They continued to stay for over a century, reminding people of the national humiliation.
Haiyue Kaijin (The oceans and mountains opening their robes) is located upon a round island right in the middle of the lake north to Siyong Studio. Embraced by water in all directions, it is laid up with white stones along the periphery and enclosed by white marble rails. The main building on the island is built upon a round two-story altar. The bottom part of the altar is 80 meters in diameter and the upper up to 70 meters. Four docks can be found in the east, west, south and north of the bottom part of the altar. Resplendent and magnificent, the whole building complex looks like a mirage.
Along the way walking back, tried out the grilled chicken sticks (RMB 10/per 4 sticks). There is chilli powder in the pot next to the griller for you to add on.
Jianbiting (Jianbi Pavilion)
This sight was on a square islet in the Juchi Lake. A square pavilion with double eaves, it has a corridor around, with a horizontal board “Jian Bi Ting” (Jianbi Pavilion). This 256-square-meter pavilion was built in 1811 (the 16th year of the reign of Emperor Jiaqing). The emperor wrote several poems to extol this sight. The existing Jianbi Pavilion was reconstructed at the former site in 1993.
Old Summer Palace 圓明園(圆明园)
Address : 北京市海淀区清华西路28号, China 100084
Tel : 62628501
Website : http://www.yuanmingyuanpark.com/