Prince Gong's Mansion

If you come here in the morning, close to opening time (before the tour groups arrive) you may enjoy the tranquillity of this beautiful and extensive private compound. This is the best preserved of the once-numerous princely mansions in Beijing – the homes of the many sons of the emperors. Yixin, Prince Gong (1833–98) was a powerful figure in the government of China in the 1860s and 1870s; he negotiated a settlement with the Western powers to end the Second Opium War (1860), and was deeply involved in the complexities of palace politics and succession.

Prince Gong’s mansion consists of ornate and reposeful living quarters, courtyards, gateways, and pavilions set in a garden of pools and rockeries. Visitors today are given the chance to do some tea-tasting (in the teahouse), and also to see excerpts from Beijing Opera; full performances are given in summer at the Grand Opera House, also in the grounds. This is an apt connection, as Prince Gong’s mansion is believed to have been an inspiration for the classic Chinese novel 'A Dream of Red Mansions' (or 'A Dream of the Red Chamber') by Cao Xuequin (?1715–c.1763), which has been adapted for the stage and is a mainstay in the repertoire of Beijing Opera.

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