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Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Brief Introduction

The Summer Palace, listed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO in 1998, is said to be the best preserved Imperial Garden in the world. Kunming LakeOriginally built in 1750 by Emperor Qianglong during the Qing Dynasty, the Summer Palace covers an area of 70 thousand square meters and holds over 3000 houses. In 1860 and 1900 it was destroyed by Anglo-French Allied Force invaders. In 1912, it was rebuilt by the Government of the Qing Dynasty. In 1924, it was opened to tourists. Being the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China, the Summer Palace has greatly influenced Chinese horticulture and landscape with its famous natural views and cultural interests. The arched bridges, pretty promenades, decorated corridors, and ‘breezeways’ (a hallway that allows the passage of a breeze between structures) lead visitors through ever-changing views and scenery. It is an expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in harmony and epitomizing the philosophy and practice of Chinese garden design.

Highlights to See

The park falls naturally into several sections, each with its own distinct character for administration, living, and relaxation.

The Court area is located  to the northeast of the Summer Palace, and spreads from the East Palace Gate to the northeastern coast of the Kunming Lake. 

Exquisite Drawings on Ceilings

These are the buildings  where Dowager Empress Cixi and Emperor Guangxu used to stay and conduct government business. It includes a number of halls, courtyards and displays and is  the first best stop for visitors to enjoy attractive views of Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill.

The Kunming Lake area boasts numerous attractions, including the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, the Bronze Ox, Nanhu Island, the Hall of Embracing the Universe, the Spacious Pavilion and the Pavilion of Bright Scenery, etc. Longevity Hill rises beside the lake, dotted with superb halls and temples and wonderfully decorated gates. The energetic can climb the hill to the Buddhist Temple overlooking the entire area.The waterside path continues across bridges, past boathouses and the amazing Marble Boat, to an area of tranquil gardens, mounds and winding paths. Here the ‘Suzhou Market Street’ also recreates traditional riverside shops, many of which can only be reached by boat.

The Garden of Virtue and Harmony is an entertainment complex, built as a theater for the Empress Dowager. 


Construction began in the 17th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign (1891) and lasted for five years. The three-story theater stage is the biggest and best-preserved wooden stage in China and is revered for its scientific and artistic value. A large number of precious articles used by Emperors and Empresses, as well as some of the gifts presented to the Qing court by foreign states are displayed here.

Just wandering round enjoying the different buildings and courtyards, or just taking in the views from one of the many vantage points is a pleasure.There are many pleasant spots along the way to pause and enjoy this much-loved summer retreat, as well as places to enjoy cool drinks and snacks.

Travel Guide

Location: Summer Palace is located in northeastern suburbs of Beijing.

Opening Hours: 8:30AM - 5PM

Best Time to Visit: Summer, as in winter the lake is frozen and the cruise is not available.

Tips: Wear comfortable shoes for walking in the garden. Ten-minutes boating on Kunming Lake is highly recommended.

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