Summer Palace

Last updated

Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Scenery of Longevity Hill.JPG
The Summer Palace in Beijing
Location Haidian District, Beijing, China
Criteria Cultural: i, ii, iii
Reference 880
Inscription1998 (22nd session)
Area297 ha
Buffer zone5,595 ha
Coordinates 39°59′51.00″N116°16′8.04″E / 39.9975000°N 116.2689000°E / 39.9975000; 116.2689000 Coordinates: 39°59′51.00″N116°16′8.04″E / 39.9975000°N 116.2689000°E / 39.9975000; 116.2689000
Beijing location map.png
Red pog.svg
Location of the Summer Palace
China Beijing adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Summer Palace (Beijing)
Summer Palace
Summer Palace (Chinese characters).svg
"Summer Palace" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese 颐和园
Traditional Chinese 頤和園
Literal meaningGarden of Preserving Harmony

The Summer Palace (simplified Chinese : 颐和园 ; traditional Chinese : 頤和園 ; pinyin :Yíhéyuán) is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces in Beijing. It was an imperial garden in the Qing dynasty. Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (万寿山; 萬壽山; Wànshòu Shān) and Kunming Lake, it covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres (1.1 sq mi), three-quarters of which is water.

Contents

Longevity Hill is about 60 metres (200 ft) high and has many buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich with splendid halls and pavilions, while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty. The central Kunming Lake, covering 2.2 square kilometres (540 acres), was entirely man-made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill.

Inspired by the gardens in South China, in the Summer Palace there are over 3,000 various Chinese ancient buildings that house a collocation of over 40,000 kinds of valuable historical relics from each dynasty.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value".

Notably in Chinese history, it is also the Central Route terminus of the South-North Water Transfer Project having traversed 1,267 km (787 mi) from Danjiangkou Reservoir, Hubei, making it Beijing's main water supply.

History

Pre-Qing dynasty

The origins of the Summer Palace date back to the Jurchen-led Jin dynasty in 1153, when the fourth ruler, Wanyan Liang (r. 1150–1161), moved the Jin capital from Huining Prefecture (in present-day Acheng District, Harbin, Heilongjiang) to Yanjing (present-day Beijing). He ordered the construction of a palace in the Fragrant Hills and Jade Spring Hill in the northwest of Beijing.

Around 1271, after the Yuan dynasty established its capital in Khanbaliq (present-day Beijing), the engineer Guo Shoujing initiated a waterworks project to direct the water from Shenshan Spring (神山泉) in Baifu Village (白浮村), Changping into the Western Lake (西湖), which would later become Kunming Lake. Guo's aim was to create a water reservoir that would ensure a stable water supply for the palace.

In 1494, the Hongzhi Emperor (r. 1487–1505) of the Ming dynasty had a Yuanjing Temple (圓靜寺) built for his wet nurse, Lady Luo, in front of Jar Hill (瓮山), which was later renamed Longevity Hill. The temple fell into disrepair over the years and was abandoned, and the area around the hill became lush with vegetation. The Zhengde Emperor (r. 1505–21), who succeeded the Hongzhi Emperor, built a palace on the banks of the Western Lake and turned the area into an imperial garden. He renamed Jar Hill to "Golden Hill" (金山) and named the lake "Golden Sea" (金海). Both the Zhengde Emperor and the Wanli Emperor (r. 1572–1620) enjoyed taking boat rides on the lake. During the reign of the Tianqi Emperor (r. 1620–27), the court eunuch Wei Zhongxian took the imperial garden as his personal property.

Qing dynasty

In the early Qing dynasty, Jar Hill served as the site for horse stables in the imperial palace. Eunuchs who committed offences were sent there to weed and cut grass.

In the beginning of the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735-1796), many imperial gardens were built in the area around present-day Beijing's Haidian District and accordingly, water consumption increased tremendously. At the time, much of the water stored in the Western Lake came from the freshwater spring on Jade Spring Hill, while a fraction came from the Wanquan River (萬泉河). Any disruption of the water flow from Jade Spring Hill would affect the capital's water transport and water supply systems.

Around 1749, the Qianlong Emperor decided to build a palace in the vicinity of Jar Hill and the Western Lake to celebrate the 60th birthday of his mother, Empress Dowager Chongqing. In the name of improving the capital's waterworks system, he ordered the Western Lake to be expanded further west to create two more lakes, Gaoshui Lake (高水湖) and Yangshui Lake (養水湖). The three lakes served not only as a reservoir for the imperial gardens, but also a source of water for the surrounding agricultural areas. The Qianlong Emperor collectively named the three lakes "Kunming Lake" after the Kunming Pool (昆明池) constructed by Emperor Wu (r. 141–187 BCE) in the Han dynasty for the training of his navy. The earth excavated from the expansion of Kunming Lake was used to enlarge Jar Hill, which was renamed "Longevity Hill". The Summer Palace, whose construction was completed in 1764 at a cost of over 4.8 million silver taels, was first named "Qingyiyuan" (清漪園; 'Gardens of Clear Ripples"').

The design of the Summer Palace was based on a legend in Chinese mythology about three divine mountains in the East Sea, namely Penglai, Fangzhang (方丈) and Yingzhou (瀛洲). The three islands in Kunming Lake – Nanhu Island (南湖島), Tuancheng Island (團城島) and Zaojiantang Island (藻鑒堂島) – were built to represent the three mountains, while the lake itself was based on a blueprint of the West Lake in Hangzhou. Besides, many architectural features in the palace were also built to resemble or imitate various attractions around China. For example: the Phoenix Pier (鳳凰墩) represented Lake Tai; the Jingming Tower (景明樓) resembled Yueyang Tower, Hunan; the Wangchan Pavilion (望蟾閣) resembled Yellow Crane Tower; the shopping streets were designed to imitate those in Suzhou and Yangzhou. The centrepiece of the Summer Palace was the "Great Temple of Gratitude and Longevity" (大報恩延壽寺). There was also a Long Corridor more than 700 metres (2,300 ft) long which was furnished with artistic decorations. As the palace was not equipped with facilities for long-term staying and daily administration of state affairs, the Qianlong Emperor hardly lived there and only remained there for the day whenever he visited it.

As the Qing Empire started declining after the reign of the Daoguang Emperor (r. 1820–1850), the Summer Palace gradually became more neglected and the architectural features on the three islands were ordered to be dismantled because the costs of maintenance were too high.

In 1860, the French and British looted the Summer Palace at the end of the Second Opium War and on October 18, 1860 the British burned down the nearby Old Summer Palace (called the Yuanmingyuan in Chinese). The destruction of the palace was ordered by Lord Elgin, the British High Commissioner to China, and was undertaken in response to the torture and killing of two British envoys, a journalist for The Times , and their escorts. The destruction of large parts of the Summer Palace still evokes anger in China. [1] [2] [3]

Between 1884–95, during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor (r. 1875–1908), Empress Dowager Cixi ordered 22 million silver taels, [4] originally designated for upgrading the Qing navy (the Beiyang Fleet), to be used for reconstructing and enlarging the Summer Palace to celebrate her 60th birthday. As the funds were limited, the construction works were concentrated on the buildings in front of Longevity Hill and the dams around Kunming Lake. The Summer Palace was also given its present-day Chinese name, "Yiheyuan" (頤和園), in 1888.

In 1900, towards the end of the Boxer Rebellion, the Summer Palace suffered damage again when the forces of the Eight-Nation Alliance destroyed the imperial gardens and seized many artifacts stored in the palace. The palace was restored two years later.

Post-Qing dynasty

In 1912, following the abdication of the Puyi, the Last Emperor, the Summer Palace became the private property of the former imperial family of the Qing Empire. Two years later, the Summer Palace was opened to the public and entry tickets were sold. In 1924, after Puyi was expelled from the Forbidden City by the warlord Feng Yuxiang, the Beijing municipal government took charge of administrating the Summer Palace and turned it into a public park.

After 1949, the Summer Palace briefly housed the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China. Many of Mao Zedong's friends and key figures in the Communist Party, such as Liu Yazi and Jiang Qing, also lived there. Since 1953, many major restoration and renovation works have been done on the Summer Palace, which is now open to the public as a tourist attraction and park.

In November 1998, the Summer Palace was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Towards the end of 2006, the Chinese government also started distributing commemorative coins to celebrate the Summer Palace as a cultural relic of the world.

Summer Palace 1888.jpg
Pictorial plan of the Summer Palace, c. 1888.

Attractions

Foxiang Ge (Tower of Buddhist Incense) at Wanshou Shan (Longevity Hill) Residence dete828.JPG
Foxiang Ge (Tower of Buddhist Incense) at Wanshou Shan (Longevity Hill)
The Wenchang Pavilion Wenchang Tower or Pavillion, Summer Palace, Beijing, 2018.jpg
The Wenchang Pavilion
Sumeru Lingjing 2014.08.27.125220 Ornaments Sumeru Lingjing Summer Palace Beijing.jpg
Sumeru Lingjing
Paiyun Dian (Hall of Dispelling Clouds) and Foxiang Ge (Tower of Buddhist Incense) at Wanshou Shan (Longevity Hill), Summer Palace 2014.08.27.135937 Paiyun Dian Foxiang Ge Summer Palace Beijing.jpg
Paiyun Dian (Hall of Dispelling Clouds) and Foxiang Ge (Tower of Buddhist Incense) at Wanshou Shan (Longevity Hill), Summer Palace
Summer Palace in June 2019 Summer Palace.jpeg
Summer Palace in June 2019

The entire Summer Palace is centered around Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, with the latter covering about three quarters of the area. Most of the important buildings were built along the north–south axis of Longevity Hill, which is divided into the front hill and the back hill. There are three small islands within Kunming Lake: Nanhu Island, Zaojiantang Island and Zhijingge Island. The West Dam of Kunming Lake divides the lake into two. The East Dam was constructed during the reign of the Guangxu Emperor. The attractions in the Summer Palace may be divided into six different sections or scenic areas: the Halls, Longevity Hill, Kunming Lake, the Farming and Weaving Picture Scenic Area, the Long Corridor, and the Central Axis area.

Front Hill

Back Hill

Wenchang Pavilion Wenchang Pavilion (Summer Palace, Beijing) in summer.JPG
Wenchang Pavilion
A Relief of three Loongs San Long Fu Diao .jpg
A Relief of three Loongs
The Kunming lake Summer Palace scene 1.jpg
The Kunming lake
The Seventeen-Arch Bridge Seventeen-Arch Bridge of Summer Palace.JPG
The Seventeen-Arch Bridge

Eastern Dam

Nanhu Island

Portion of a fresco of a pavilion of the Summer Palace. 20090530 Beijing Summer Palace 8638.jpg
Portion of a fresco of a pavilion of the Summer Palace.

Western Dam

Climate

Kunming Lake
Climate chart (explanation)
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
D
 
 
2
 
 
1
−5
 
 
5
 
 
6
−1
 
 
8
 
 
13
3
 
 
35
 
 
24
9
 
 
29
 
 
32
18
 
 
128
 
 
35
22
 
 
226
 
 
36
25
 
 
88
 
 
34
22
 
 
112
 
 
30
20
 
 
24
 
 
20
11
 
 
32
 
 
11
5
 
 
5
 
 
2
−3
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

Forbidden City Art museum, Imperial Palace, Historic site in Beijing, China

The Forbidden City is a palace complex in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China, at the center of the Imperial City of Beijing. It is surrounded by numerous opulent imperial gardens and temples including the 22-hectare (54-acre) Zhongshan Park, the sacrificial Imperial Ancestral Temple, the 69-hectare (171-acre) Beihai Park, and the 23-hectare (57-acre) Jingshan Park.

Old Summer Palace

The Old Summer Palace, known in Chinese as Yuanming Yuan, originally called the Imperial Gardens, and sometimes called the Winter Palace, was a complex of palaces and gardens in present-day Haidian District, Beijing, China. It is 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) northwest of the walls of the former Imperial City section of Beijing. Widely perceived as the pinnacle work of Chinese imperial garden and palace design, the Old Summer Palace was known for its extensive collection of gardens, its building architecture and numerous art and historical treasures. Constructed throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, the Old Summer Palace was the main imperial residence of Qianlong Emperor of the Qing dynasty and his successors, and where they handled state affairs; the Forbidden City was used for formal ceremonies. It was reputed as the "Garden of Gardens" in its heyday.

Empress Dowager Cixi Chinese empress (1835-1908)

Empress Dowager Cixi was a Chinese empress dowager and regent who was the de facto supreme ruler of China in the late Qing dynasty for 47 years, from 1861 until her death in 1908. Of the Manchu Yehe Nara clan, she was elected as a concubine of the Xianfeng Emperor in her adolescence and gave birth to a son, Zaichun, in 1856. After the Xianfeng Emperor's death in 1861, the young boy became the Tongzhi Emperor, and she became the Empress Dowager. Cixi ousted a group of regents appointed by the late emperor and assumed regency, which she shared with Empress Dowager Ci'an. Cixi then consolidated control over the dynasty when she installed her nephew as the Guangxu Emperor at the death of the Tongzhi Emperor in 1875, contrary to the traditional rules of succession of the Qing dynasty that had ruled China since 1644.

Guangxu Emperor 11th Emperor of Qing-dynasty China (1875-1908)

The Guangxu Emperor, personal name Zaitian, was the tenth Emperor of the Qing dynasty, and the ninth Qing emperor to rule over China proper. His reign lasted from 1875 to 1908, but in practice he ruled, without Empress Dowager Cixi's influence, only from 1889 to 1898. He initiated the Hundred Days' Reform, but was abruptly stopped when the empress dowager launched a coup in 1898, after which he became powerless and was held under house arrest until his death. His era name, "Guangxu", means "glorious succession".

Zhongnanhai

Zhongnanhai is a former imperial garden in the Imperial City, Beijing, adjacent to the Forbidden City; it serves as the central headquarters for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the State Council of China. Zhongnanhai houses the office of the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Premier of the People's Republic of China. The term Zhongnanhai is closely linked with the central government and senior Communist Party officials. It is often used as a metonym for the Chinese leadership at large.

Prince Gong Prince Gong of the First Rank

Yixin, better known in English as Prince Kung or Gong, was an imperial prince of the Aisin Gioro clan and an important statesman of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China. He was a regent of the empire from 1861 to 1865 and wielded great influence at other times as well.

Yixuan, Prince Chun

Yixuan, formally known as Prince Chun, was an imperial prince of the Aisin Gioro clan and a statesman of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty in China. He was the father of the Guangxu Emperor, and the paternal grandfather of Puyi through his fifth son Zaifeng.

The Long Corridor is a covered walkway in the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. First erected in the middle of the 18th century, it is famous for its 728 m (2,388 ft) length in conjunction with its rich painted decoration.

Jade Belt Bridge

The Jade Belt Bridge, also known as the Camel's Back Bridge, is an 18th-century pedestrian moon bridge located on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. It is famous for its distinctive tall thin single arch.

Marble Boat Structure in Beijing, China

The Marble Boat, also known as the Boat of Purity and Ease, is a lakeside pavilion on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China.

Kunming Lake

Kunming Lake is the central lake on the grounds of the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Together with the Longevity Hill, Kunming Lake forms the key landscape features of the Summer Palace gardens.

Chengde Mountain Resort

Chengde Mountain Resort in Chengde, is a large complex of imperial palaces and gardens situated in the Shuangqiao District of Chengde in northeastern Hebei province, northern China, about 225 km northeast of Beijing. This resort was frequently used as a summer palace during the Qing dynasty. Because of its vast and rich collection of Chinese landscapes and architecture, the Mountain Resort in many ways is a culmination of all the variety of gardens, pagodas, temples and palaces from various regions of China. In 1994, The Mountain Resort was awarded World Heritage Site status.

Empress Dowager Longyu Chinese empress during the end of the Qing dynasty

Jingfen, of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Yehe Nara clan, was the wife and empress consort of Zaitian, the Guangxu Emperor. She was Empress consort of Qing from 1889 until her husband's death in 1908, after which she was honoured as Empress Dowager Longyu. She was posthumously honoured with the title Empress Xiaodingjing.

Fragrant Hills

Fragrant Hills or Xiangshan Park is a public park and former imperial garden at the foot of the Western Hills in the Haidian District, in the northwestern part of Beijing, China. It was also formerly known as Jingyi Garden or "Jingyiyuan" (靜宜園). It covers 160 ha and consists of a natural pine-cypress forest, hills with maple trees, smoke trees and persimmon trees, as well as landscaped areas with traditional architecture and cultural relics. The name derives from the park's highest peak, Xianglu Feng, a 557-meter (1,827 ft) hill with two large stones resembling incense burners at the top.

Empress Xiaoshengxian Empress Xiaoshengxian

Empress Xiaoshengxian, of the Manchu Bordered Yellow Banner Niohuru clan, was a posthumous name bestowed to the consort of Yinzhen, the Yongzheng Emperor and mother of Hongli, the Qianlong Emperor. She was honoured as Empress Dowager Chongqing during the reign of her son and posthumously honoured as empress, although she never held the rank of empress consort during her lifetime.

Grand Council (Qing dynasty) Qing dynasty policy-making body

The Grand Council or Junji Chu, officially the Banli Junji Shiwu Chu, was an important policy-making body of China during the Qing dynasty. It was established in 1733 by the Yongzheng Emperor. The council was originally in charge of military affairs, but gradually attained a more important role and eventually attained the role of a privy council, eclipsing the Grand Secretariat in function and importance, which is why it has become known as the "Grand Council" in English.

Ronglu Qing dynasty politician and military leader

Ronglu, courtesy name Zhonghua, was a Manchu political and military leader of the late Qing dynasty. He was born in the Guwalgiya clan, which was under the Plain White Banner of the Manchu Eight Banners. Deeply favoured by Empress Dowager Cixi, he served in a number of important civil and military positions in the Qing government, including the Zongli Yamen, Grand Council, Grand Secretary, Viceroy of Zhili, Beiyang Trade Minister, Secretary of Defence, Nine Gates Infantry Commander, and Wuwei Corps Commander. He was also the maternal grandfather of Puyi, the last Emperor of China and the Qing dynasty.

Jichang Garden

Jichang Garden is located inside Xihui Park, east side of Huishan, east side of western suburban of Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China. It is close to Huishan Temple. Jichang Garden is a famed Chinese classical garden in South China, and it was claimed as a national protected location of historical and cultural relics on 13 January 1988. Xiequ Garden (谐趣园) inside the Summer Palace and Guo Ran Da Gong (廓然大公) in Yuanming Yuan in Beijing both imitated Jichang Garden.

Eastern Qing tombs Imperial mausoleum complex of the Qing dynasty

The Eastern Qing tombs are an imperial mausoleum complex of the Qing dynasty located in Zunhua, 125 kilometres (78 mi) northeast of Beijing. They are the largest, most complete, and best preserved extant mausoleum complex in China. Altogether, five emperors, 15 empresses, 136 imperial concubines, three princes, and two princesses of the Qing dynasty are buried here. Surrounded by Changrui Mountain, Jinxing Mountain, Huanghua Mountain, and Yingfei Daoyang Mountain, the tomb complex stretches over a total area of 80 square kilometres (31 sq mi).

Palace of Universal Happiness is one of the six western palaces and was a residence of imperial concubines. The palace is north of the Palace of Eternal Spring, east of the Palace of Gathering Elegance and south-east of the Palace of Earthly Honour.

References

  1. E. W. R. Lumby, "Lord Elgin and the Burning of the Summer Palace." History Today (July 1960) 10#7 pp 479-48.
  2. The palace of shame that makes China angry
  3. Ringmar, Erik (2013). Liberal Barbarism: The European Destruction of the Palace of the Emperor of China. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. Zhu, Weizheng (Apr 23, 2015). Rereading Modern Chinese History. BRILL. p. 351.
  5. "Summer Palace Marble Boat - Beijing Summer Palace, Yiheyuan". www.travelchinaguide.com. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  6. "NASA Earth Observations Data Set Index". NASA. Retrieved 30 January 2016.