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    This area has served ad a royal summer home since the Jin dynasty, but not until Emperor Qianlong remodeled it for his mother in 1750 did it begin to assume its present shape. Twice sacked by foreign armies-in 1860and 1900-the Palace was twice rebuilt by the indefatigable Empress Cixi, the first time using funds earmarked for China’s navy. It also didn’t become The Summer Palace until nearby Yuanming Yuan, the Old Summer Palace was razed in 1860and left fallow as a symbol of foreign aggression against China.The marble boat in man-made Kuming Lake is often cited as a symbol of Cixi’s short sighted extravagance(it’s a tribute to China’s navy, although they probably would have rather just received their budget).Other sights include the Hall of Jade Ripples, where Cixi had Emperor Guangxu, her nephew, placed under house arrest after discovering a plot to undermine her power.

    Don’t miss the Garden of Harmonious Virtue, which houses the original multiplex: a three-level Peking opera theater designed for Cixi’s amusement –her birthdays were celebrated there with multiday extravaganzas involving as many as 380 performers. It requires a separate RMB10ticket,but it’s worth it. Working the long Corridor with its 10,000differently painted scenes is a good way to contemplate Cixi’s dragon-lady reputation.

    Although it’s a long drive, except for anyone based in Haidian, this is a great place to visit as the locals do: for its park and environs. Forget the big halls ans the Kodak moments.

    Just buy the most basic entry ticket and stroll the grounds like Cixi herself, especially on a crisp autumn day. If the crowds become oppressive, rent a boat, walk to the north side of Longevity Hill or stroll around the lake. Avoid the kitschy ‘Little Suzhou water town.’

    If you want to travel to the Summer Place in the same manner as Cixi, come by boat via canals. Boats depart from Yuyuantan Park and from behind the Beijing Exhibition Center. Daily 6.30am-8pm (6am last ticket).RMB 30(Apr1-Oct31) RMB20 (Nov1-Mar31), students half price.Yiheyuan lu,Haidian District,(62881144)

    We suggest the follow tour routes for you (Two hours)
    1) The East Palace Gate (Donggongmen) is the main entrance to the Summer Palace. It has three doors, the one in the center being exclusively for the emperor and the empress, and the two side doors for nobles and ministers. The three characters, Yi He Yuan (Summer Palace), on the plaque of the gate, were written by Emperor Guangxu, the last but one emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This emperor is said to have worked at calligraphy specially so as to give a good account of himself in handwriting. The stone carving leading to the middle door has a design of two dragons, symbol of imperial dignity, playing with a ball.
    2) The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity (Renshoudian) was a place where the emperor temporarily conducted his business. It was originally built in 1750, and named Qinzhengdian (Hall of Industrious Government), which reminded the emperor to be diligent in transacting state affairs while relaxing in the garden. Destroyed by fire in 1860, the hall was rebuilt and given its present name, Renshoudian. The words, which translate as 'Benevolence and Longevity', were taken from the Analects of Confucius, to imply that the emperor who applied a policy of benevolence would live a long life.

    In the hall, a throne, a wall screen, decorative fans made of peacock feather, incense burners, crane-shaped lights remain laid out as they originally were. The wall screen is quite exceptional, for it has nine dragons and 226 examples of the Chinese character for'Longevity', in different styles.

    In front of the hall, there are bronze phoenixes and dragons, with hollow abdomens. When incense was burnt inside, they would smoke, adding aroma to the atmosphere during the ongoing court in the hall. In the courtyard, four unusual stones, dark in color and with holes, represent the four seasons of the year. To the north of the hall, visitors may observe a well, Yannianjing (Well of Prolonging Life). Empress Dowager Cixi is said to have recovered from sunstroke after drinking the water from the well and bestowed on it the name.

    3) The Hall of Joyful Longevity (Leshoutang) was the occasional residence of Empress Dowager Cixi in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This large complex enjoys a prime position, facing the Kunming Lake, and backing onto the Longevity Hill. In front of the hall, bronze deer, cranes, and vases are displayed, signifying peace with their combination of Chinese elements. Planted inside the yard are magnolias, haitang (Chinese flowering apples tree) and peonies, symbolizing riches and honor. The exquisite rockery in the courtyard has existed since the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty.

    The main hall is divided into a living room in the center, bedroom in the west and dressing room in the east. All the rooms are decorated in an imperial style, luxurious and delicate. Positioned in the living room are a throne, a desk, glass screen and fans. Beside the throne are four bronze incense burners and two large blue and white porcelain bowls. The latter performed a double function: to hold fruit and to give off perfume.

    It is said that the hall was also the first place to be installed with electric lights in China and Cixi the first person to use electricity. Only then was its use spread gradually throughout China.

    4) The Longevity Hill was originally called the Wengshan Hill. It was renamed by Emperor Qianlong in 1752, during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), when he constructed the garden. The hill is about 60 meters (196.9 feet) high and houses many buildings positioned in sequence. The front hill is rich in splendid halls and pavilions; while the back hill, in sharp contrast, is quiet with natural beauty.

    At the foot of the front hill, an ancient-style archway provides the main entrance for climbing the hill. On the way up, visitors may see the major structures neatly ordered along a north-south ascending axis: Gate of Dispelling Clouds (Paiyunmen), Second Palace Gate (Ergongmen), Hall of Dispelling Clouds (Paiyundian), Hall of Moral Glory (Dehuidian), Tower of Buddhist Incense (Foxiangge) and the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom on top of the hill. The most noteworthy structure of the back of the Longevity Hill is a building complex in Tibetan lamasery style. It is considered to be a miniature Potala Palace, the most famous resort of Lhasa in Tibet.

    5) The Long Corridor (Changlang), 728 meters (796 yards) in length, is the longest of its kind not only in China but also in the world. In 1992, it was put into the Guinness World Record as the longest corridor of the world. Running from the Yaoyuemen (Gate of Inviting the Moon) in the east to the Shizhang Pavilion in the west, the corridor includes 273 sections, all decorated with paintings. Along the corridor, four elegant octagonal pavilions are interspersed in order, each of which symbolizes one season of a year.

    The corridor is also an exceptional art gallery, featuring more than 14,000 pictures of landscapes, flowers, birds, human figures and stories on its beams and ceilings. It is an excellent carrier of the Chinese culture, including traditional art, history and literature. Of special note are the pictures of human figures depicting stories that give a lively account of long history of China.

    As there isn't additional explanation in the pictures, visitors have to imagine what The corridor wanders westward from the Court Area, along the north bank of the Kunming Lake, at the foot of the Longevity Hill. It is virtually a smart connecter of the three scenic areas in the Summer Palace, which make it a primary route for visiting the whole garden, rain or shine.

    6) At the west end of the Long Corridor, visitors may easily find a boat, named Marble Boat (Shifang). This two-storied boat was originally built in 1755 in Chinese style during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, but its superstructure was burnt out by the Anglo-French Allied Forces. In 1893, Empress Dowager Cixi had it rebuilt in an imitation of western-style yachts. The boat is not entirely made of marble, but has some wood subassemblies. The wood, however, gussies up marble texture perfectly, which makes it harmonious with the main marble body.

    This luxurious boat has its historical origin with Wei Zheng, a famous faithful minister of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), who told the emperor, 'The waters that bear the boat is the same that swallow it up.' In the words, he compared the relationship between the emperor and his people as that between a boat and waters. In this way, he suggested that the emperor love his people, otherwise, the exasperated people would overthrow the emperor's reign. Emperor Qianlong had the firm boat made of stone, hoping that the reign of the Qing Dynasty would never be toppled.