Located in the city of Chengde, northern Hebei Province, the Chengde Imperial Summer Resort was first built in 1703, and it was expanded in 1792. The resort occupies a total area of 5.64 sq. m.
Since it is only 250 km from Beijing, emperors of the Qing Dynasty lived here with their concubines and ministers in the summer months every year. The emperors handled court affairs and received foreign envoys and tribal leaders in this summer resort, which was known as the second capital of the dynasty. The structures of the resort mainly include the Dan Bo Jing Cheng (Detachment and Loyalty) Hall, which is entirely made of valuable nanmu wood, and Wenjin Tower, a library housing the Complete Chinese Classics. In addition, there are also Jinshan (Golden Mountain) Temple and Ruyi (Good Luck) Islet.
There were 12 Lamaist temples located in the north and east of the resort. They were built to symbolize the Qing Dynasty's policy of strengthening the unity of the country's various ethnic groups. The existing temples include Puning Temple, Pule Temple, Xumifushou Temple, Putuozongsheng Temple, Anyuan Temple and Shuxiang Temple.
Wenjin Tower was built in 1774 to store the Complete Chinese Classics. It has three stories and the middle one is sheltered from sunshine.
Under the ancient pine tree to the east of the tower, there stands a tablet with Emperor Qianlong's calligraphy on it. A total of seven copies of the grand works were made during the reign of Qianlong. The copy stored in Wenjin Tower was moved to Beijing in 1915. it was later stored in the Capital Library and is now in the collection of the National Library of China.
Eight Temples in the Exterior
There are only seven left of the Exterior Eight Temples, namely, Furen Temple, Puning Temple, Pule Temple, Xumifushou Temple, Putuozongsheng Temple, Anyuan Temple and Shuxiang Temple. The construction of these temples contributed much to the unity among China's various minority ethnic groups, the consolidation of the empire's rule and defense against foreign invasion.
Legends and Stories
There is a miraculous folk tale about this imperial summer resort, the largest one of its kind in China. It is said that once Emperor Kangxi led a group of officials and generals hunting. In pursuit of a mysterious white rabbit, the emperor discovered a hot spring, beyond which was a vast grassland backed by tree-shrouded mountains. He immediately decided to build a palace there. As soon as he had announced his intention, the white rabbit appeared before him again. The emperor realized that the rabbit had been divinely sent to guide him to the spot.