The Summer Palace at Yiheyuan

All images copyright © 2006 by Wm. Robert Johnston.

The Summer Palace at Yiheyuan, about 14 km northwest of the center of Beijing, served as a retreat for Chinese emperors. The original Summer Palace was a few km away at Yuanmingyuan, with most of its structures dating to around 1750 under Emperor Qianlong. The Yuanmingyuan retreat was mostly destroyed by European troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Beginning in 1888, the "New" Summer Palace at Yiheyuan was built under Empress Dowager Cixi as a replacement for the Yuanmingyuan retreat (the Yiheyuan site had actually been used as an imperial pleasure garden since around 1153).

The Yiheyuan site is dominated by Kunming Lake and, to its north, Wanshoushan ("Longevity Hill"). This artificial hill, 60 meters high, is the location of most of the structures.

One of many paintings in the ceilings and eaves of the structures in the Summer Palace; this one shows children playing.
This is a walking bridge over the lake at the rear of the Summer Palace complex, on the north side.
On the north edge of the complex.
The Marble Boat (Qingyanfang) on Kunming Lake is a (non-floating) stone structure built under Empress Cixi; it is considered an example of the diversion of resources to build the New Summer Palace--resources diverted from the Chinese Navy, which was subsequently defeated by the Japanese in 1895.

Kunming Lake is regularly filled with assorted tourist boats today.

This is a view in the Garden of Harmonious Interest (Xiequyuan), near the northeast edge of the complex. The pond here is surrounded by pagodas and covered walkways.
This natural rock formation moved to the Summer Palace is but one example of traditional Chinese facination with unusual rock formations. Such rock gardens are found at many other sites.

This image is a stereo pair: look at the left image with your left eye, and the right image with your right eye, and you may be able to see the rock in 3-D.

A panorama of Kunming Lake, viewed from the north from Wanshoushan hill. In the center of the left half of the image is Nanhudao ("Southern Lake Island"), joined to the shore by the Seventeen Arches Bridge (Shigikongqiao).

Copyright © 2006 by Wm. Robert Johnston. All rights reserved.
Last modified 7 August 2006.
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