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August 12, 2008 / Adam Jay Doolittle

Summer Palace

The 17 Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace

It’s a nice escape from the chaos of Beijing, and is one of Beijing’s most visited sites. The immense park of the Summer Palace is dominated by the Kunming Lake. Admission into the park is Y30 for entrance or Y60 for entrance and entrance into all other sites within. Be sure to take at lease three hours to half a day for a decent tour of the Summer Palace.

Address: 19 Xinjian Gongme
Phone: 6288 114
Open: 8:30-5:00pm

The Summer Palace was once the royal family’s escape from the Forbidden City during the summer heat. The site was royal garden before Emperor Qianlong, 18th Century, used 100,000 laborers to expand the lake.

During the second opium war, 1856-1860, the Anglo-French troops left their mark on the Palace, damaging buildings and plundering various treasures. Empress Dowager Cixi refited the palace in 1888 with money budgeted for a modern navy, but the Marble Boat on the North end of the park, was her only naval concession.

Foreign troops during the Boxer Rebellion had another round of looting in the 1900’s.

Sights to See Within the Summer Palace

Hall of Benevolence and Longevity – the main structure of the Summer Palace, with a hardwood throne, a courtyard littered with bronze animals.

Long Corridor – an abundance of paintings and dashing woodwork along the Northern shore.

Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion


Cloud Dispelling Hall

Temple of the Sea Wisdom – tiled with statuettes of Buddha, but many have been obliterated.

Qing Boathouses – where you’ll see Cixi’s marble boat, and some fine boathouses from Emperor Qing.

South Lake Island – There’s not much on this Island, but the journey to the Island is worth the trip. Either take the ferry for Y10 or walk around the lake to the 17 arch bridge.

Dragon King Temple – It’s on the South Lake Island

Suzhou Street – mimicking the famous southern town Jangsu, Suzhou Street impersonates the water canals, shops, and eateries.

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