YuanMingYuan 圆明园, BeiJing

YuanMingYuan, also known as the 'Old Summer Palace', was constructed during the 18th and early 19th century and was a wonderland of lakes and waterways, bridges, hills and pavilions.


One third of the ground of YuanMingYuan was taken up by over 200 small hills with steep sides, secluded valleys, rock walls and stone caves. Half of the garderns are covered by the waters of lakes, winding streams and ponds.


It was at YuanMingYuan that the emperors of the Qing Dynasty resided and handled government affairs - until it was destroyed; the Forbidden City was mostly used only for formal ceremonies at this time.


The southern part of YuanMingYuan was where emperors handled state affairs, while the other parts were primarily for personal use and comprised of more than 150 scenic spots, involving rare exotic flowers and trees from different parts of the country.


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


The various styles of architecture, standing encircled by hills and rivulets, presented a most picturesque view. Many were reproductions of scenic mountains, rivers and famous gardens in China (mostly southern China).


During his many tours of the country, emperor QianLong made it a point to have pictures of famous gardens and scenes drawn so that he could have replicas built in Beijing. Most famous of these were the ten scenic spots of the West Lake in HangZhou.


The Old Summer Palace is often associated with the European-style palaces (Xi Yang Lou) that were built of stone. The designers of those structures, the Jesuits Giuseppe Castiglione and Michel Benoist, were employed by emperor QianLong to satisfy his taste for exotic buildings and objects. However, more than 95% of the Imperial Gardens consisted of essentially Chinese-style buildings. There were also a few buildings in Tibetan and Mongolian styles, reflecting the diversity of the Qing empire.


In addition, hundreds of invaluable Chinese art masterpieces and antiquities were stored in the halls, including some unique copies of literary works and collections.


In 1860, during the 'Second Opium War', the British and French expeditionary forces looted the Old Summer Palace. Later, on October 18 1860, a British general - despite protestations from the French (who in fact had began the looting) - gave the order to set fire to the huge complex, which burned to the ground.


In 1900, those buildings that had partly survived or been restored were burnt for good by the Western expeditionary forces sent to quell the 'Boxer Rebellion'. Many priceless artifacts were plundered and made their way to museums and private collections in Europe.


The ruins were further plundered by the warlords of the early republican period and further destruction of the ruins took place during the 'Cutural Revolution'. After all this destruction, what was left was truely just an empty shell.


Empress dowager CiXi later directed the forming of YiHeYuan (Garden of Nurtured Harmony), into a new Summer Palace; this was near to the Old Summer Palace, but on a (somewhat) smaller scale.


Nearest subway station : YuanMingYuan on line 4.


Don't miss :



  • Buying a large souvenir 'map' at the entrance showing the original gardens
  • The ruins of the Western-style palaces
  • FuHai Lake near sunset

[640],shadow=true,start=,stop=

Related Videos

Featured Videos

Dance of the Silk Road and Long Long Ago …
Plus, Gong LinNa with a beautiful new song : Xiao He Tang Shui 小河淌水 ...
Hong Kong White Rose exhibition space 香港白色玫瑰展示塲地
In February 2016, 25,000 white roses, actually LED lights, were installed in the Central Promenade and Tamar Park area of Hong Kong's business district, for both Valentine's day and the Lantern Festival, part of the Chinese New Year period. Beautiful ... Plus, views of Hong Kong's skyline ...
ShangHai 上海 Sunrise
Beautiful ...
China 中国 travel trip, with drone
Filmed, edited and produced by : Maarten de Haas. Places include GuiLin, YangShuo, The Great Wall of China, the 'Avatar mountains' of ZhangJiaJie, DeQin, ShangRiLa, Tibet and Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Temples and monastries of Tibet 西藏, China
Beginning with the Potala Palace in Lhasa, which lies at an altitude of 3,700 meters / 12,000 feet. Construction began in 1645. The second video shows Jokhang Temple, said to be the most sacred; it dates from the 7th century.
Hiking the Great Wall of China at JianKou 箭扣, BeiJing
An awesome video - don't miss it ! Bonus films - ChenJiaPu 陈家沟 'wild' Great Wall ... Hiking the 'wild wall' is technically illegal for conservation reasons, and safety concerns. However, permits are available. It is recommended to go with a guide; 'dangerous' is not hype in places like JianKou - be careful - don't go alone, take your time, have a mobile and water with you, etc.
Climbing Mount HuaShan 华山
Filmed in August 2010. Includes the famous 'plank walk' at the end; this is perched precariously on a cliff face that is well over 1000m above the valley below, in a sheer drop. The plank walk is on the east peak, which is about a 15km walk / climb from the north peak. HuaShan ('Flower Mountain', or 'Splendid Mountain') lies in southern ShaanXi province, about 120km east of Xi'An; it is one of the five sacred Taoist mountains, with four main peaks.
TianZiFang 田子坊, ShangHai
TiánZǐFāng is a neighborhood of labyrinthine alleyways off TaiKang Road (TàiKāng Lù). TianZiFang is known for small craft stores, coffee shops, trendy art studios and narrow alleys. It has become a popular tourist destination in ShangHai, and an example of the preservation of local ShiKuMen architecture, with some similarities to XinTianDi.
DaLian 大连 city in time-lapse
LiaoNing province.
Future China – a talk by Martin Jacques
Memories of the ShangHai 上海 World Expo 2010 (1)
May 1st - October 31st, 2010.
Even more songs from the Voice of China
Starting with 'Listen', 'Feeling Good', 'At Last' and 'Something's got a hold on me'. Plus 'Price tag', 'Time to say goodbye', '(Does that make me) Crazy', 'She's gone' and 'What a wonderful world', plus some classic Chinese songs. Not to be missed ... "It wasn't because I didn't know that much ... It was just I knew TOO much .

A selection of popular videos

Keyword / tag search :