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Yuanmingyuan

Updated: 2011-07-28 11:36
( china.org.cn)

Yuanmingyuan

Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan)

Introduction:

Yuanmingyuan, which extolled as the "Garden of Gardens", was used to be an imperial summer palace for imperial family. The palace was continuously expanded under five emperors' supervision in the Qing Dynasty, and the expanding went on over 150 years.

It glorious past might have come to an abrupt end as its buildings were destroyed by the British and French armies during the Second Opium War in 1860. Much damage was caused after this by locals using the site as a source of building materials.

The massive imperial compound is now a beautiful park filled with lakes and a wide variety of plant life.

Dashuifa, located to the eat of Haiyantang, and at the meeting point of the north-south axis of Changchunyuan and the east-west axis of the European Palaces, this site was the most spectacular scene of Western-style fountains in the garden, where the British envoy George Macartney visited in 1793.

Dashuifa, facing south, was a group of fountains with a shrine-shaped structure in the background. In an oval pond was a hunting scene: a deer, whose horns sprayed water, was chased by a group of hounds, whose mouths shot water in the direction of their prey-with 13-layer fountain pyramids on both sides, this presented a magnificent display. To the south of Dashuifa was Guan Shuifa, which consisted of a throne facing north for the emperor to admire the Grand Waterworks, and a carved, curving stone screen. These two structures were both built around 1759.

Yuanyingguan, to the north of Dashuifa, was a large building in the shape of a Western bell tower, built in 1783. The doors and windows were inlaid with 1,206 pieces of glass. The building was supported by over ten tall, White marble pillars, among which the most beautiful were the two supporting the central arched gate. They were both carved in detail from top to bottom in patterns of hanging grapes with life-like vines and leaves.

Much weathered after more than a century, the surviving carved pillars, stone shrine and screen still look distinctive and impressive. Dashuifa is a must-see for visitors.

Admission:

10 yuan; extra 15 yuan for the palace ruins.

Opening hours:

7:00 - 19:00

How to get there:

Bus: No. 320, 628, 697, 801, 特6, 319, 311, 432, 438, 498, 664, 690, 696, 826, arrive at Yuanmingyuan Qichunyuan;

Bus: 664, 特4, 982, 365, 432, 656, 681, 717, 743, 814, 963, arrive at Yuanmingyuan Changchunyuan East gate.

Transportation within the garden: free for using wheelchair (deposit is 500 Yuan); 5 Yuan for a storage battery car.

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