Summer Palace

The royal court of the Qing emperors could escape the summer heat and claustrophobic atmosphere of the Forbidden City by shifting about 10 km (6 miles) to the north-west to their Summer Palace. British and French troops destroyed the Old Summer Palace during the Second Opium War (1856–60); the ruins of this can still be seen in a park slightly to the east. They also destroyed much of the newer Summer Palace – a complex of buildings set close to the large Kunming Lake. But here the buildings were restored for the use of the Imperial family, leaving an impressive cluster of residences, temples and shrines, pavilions and gardens, with picturesque bridges to the lake islands.

The Summer Palace is now one of Beijing's most visited attractions. This was the home of the feared Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908), the effective ruler in the dying years of the Qing dynasty, whose intransigence and scheming played a pivotal role in the downfall of the last emperors. One of her most famous legacies is her ornately carved marble boat on the northern edge of the lake. The Wenchang Gallery contains a fine collection of porcelain, as well as jade and examples of Qing furniture.

There are no comments yet - add yours below

This helps to discourage spam