Scenes from YuanMingYuan 圆明园, BeiJing

YuánMíngYuán was the original Summer Palace in BeiJing and sometimes referred to as the 'Old Summer Palace'.

YuanMingYuan lies 8 kilometers (5 miles) northwest of central Beijing, close to the (new) Summer Palace (YíHéYuán 颐和园). It was constructed during the 18th and early 19th centuries and was a wonderland of lakes and waterways, bridges, hills and pavilions.


There were originally towers, terraces, pavilions, halls, corridors, pagodas and bridges with a total construction area of 150,000 square meters. Artisans were recruited from all over China to enact the exquisite settings.


Many of the 160 scenic spots were reproductions of famous mountains, rivers and famous gardens in China. The various styles of architecture, standing encircled by hills and streams, presented a most picturesque view.


In addition, hundreds of invaluable Chinese art masterpieces and antiquities were stored in the halls, including some unique copies of literary works and collections. YuanMingYuan was, indeed, a veritable museum of garden construction and horticulture. Known to be one of the largest museums in the world, a popular name in China was the 'Garden of Gardens'.


In 1860 during the 'Second Opium War', YuanMingYuan was looted then burned down by imperialist British and French troops. So great was the devastation that a new Summer Palace was later built nearby.


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