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Destination Details

Beijing, China

 

The Summer Palace, in the Haidian District, northwest of central Beijing, is said to be the best preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in modern China.  It’s hardly surprising that, during the hot Beijing summers, the Imperial Family preferred the beautiful gardens and airy pavilions of the Summer Palace to the walled-in Forbidden City.  Dowager Empress Cixi took up permanent residence here for a time, giving rise to some wonderful tales of extravagance and excess.

 

Summer is the best time to visit Summer Palace. The lake is frozen and the cruise is not available during winter.

Although only a short drive (15 km) from central Beijing, it seems like another world. The Chinese call it Yihe Yuan (Garden of Restful Peace), and the landscaped gardens, temples and pavilions were designed to achieve harmony with nature, to soothe and please the eye.  The park spreads across the low hills, including Longevity Hill, around Kunming Lake, and was is divided into three main zones (administration, living, and relaxation).  The  wonderful buildings and courtyards wander beside the lake, along the waterways and climb the low slopes of the hillside.  The arched bridges, pretty promenades, decorated ‘corridors’ and breezeways all lead visitors through ever-changing views and scenery. Here the marvelous marble boat, there an old theatre, over there an island reached by small wooden boat, and in the distance the hills, with a temple on the hillside, framed by dark trees.  It was listed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO in 1998.

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