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The Old Summer Palace

editor  13-07-31 17:19

Language:中文 pin yin English

In northwestern Beijing, there are patches of dilapidated walls, with nothing but stone pillars and carvings. Tall stone columns stand firmly, and elegant stone carvings have lost the glory of their former days. Many people would not think that over one hundred years ago, this was a world famous royal garden – the Old Summer Palace.  
Started during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, the Old Summer Palace was constructed during the reigns of Emperors Yongzheng, Qianlong, Jiaqing, Xianfeng, and Tongzhi. The Old Summer Palace became known as the “Garden of Gardens.” French writer Victor Hugo once wrote, “Imagine some inexpressible construction, something like a lunar building, and you will have the Summer Palace.” At that time, the Old Summer Palace contained richly ornamented palace buildings. All around were exotic flowers and plants, with dazzling treasures of art beyond counting. Every year, the royal family held all kinds of activities there.
The gardens of the Old Summer Palace thematically showcased water; many were based directly on the famous waterscapes of the Yangtze River region in southern China. The Old Summer Palace also had a striking uniqueness, which was the large number of garden styles replicated from all across China, particularly the Yangtze River region. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty made six official inspection trips to this part of China; each time he visited a famous scenic area or garden, he instructed a painter to record the landscape for replication in Beijing. Thus, at that time, the royal family could enjoy the scenery of southern China in the Old Summer Palace without leaving Beijing.   
This royal garden was ruined by China’s feeble state. In 1860, the Old Summer Garden was destroyed during the Second Opium War. Today, only relics remain in the Old Summer Palace. But, when you go there and take a stroll, you can better experience history’s ebb and flow.


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Edit on13-07-31 17:19