Map By Maps of China
The Summer Palace is located within the Haidian District, northwest of Beijing. It is the best preserved imperial garden in the world and the largest of its kind that still in existence in China today. It is mainly composed of the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The huge garden boasts about 3,000 garden architecture and is broken into three zones: office zone, living quarters and sightseeing area.
The Summer Palace occupies a total area of more than 290 hectares. The Longevity Hill covers one fourth of the total area while the Kunming Lake covers the rest three quarters. The beautiful former imperial garden is set off by a multitude of highly decorated buildings, halls, pavilions, bridges, towers, pagodas, isles, and courtyards. The harmonious layout of the garden is a Chinese architectural masterpiece that combines both the gorgeous landscape and the treasure of the traditional Chinese gardening art.
The history of the Summer Palace dated back to the Jin Dynasty, 800 years ago. However, it was during the prime time of the Qing Dynasty that the building of the imperial garden reached its culmination. The Summer Palace is reputed as the King of the Gardens though; it had undergone two nearly deadly devastations. In 1860 the Anglo-French Allied Forced invaded Beijing and the Summer Palace, together with many other imperial gardens and resorts, was burnt down to ashes. Beijing Yiheyuan, ChinaThe invaders plundered the treasures from the garden and afterwards set fire on the buildings. In 1888 during the reign of Emperor Guangxu (1875-1898), Empress Dowager Cixi spent a fabulous sum of money having the Garden partly rebuilt and she gave it the new name – the Summer Palace. She actually pinched the funding from the navy. 1n 1900 however the Allied Forces of Eight Powers invaded Beijing and the Summer Palace was once again ravaged by these foreign robbers. This time Empress Cixi and Emperor Guangxu fled to Xian. Two years later, they returned to Beijing and ordered the garden rebuilt. In 1924, after the last Emperor Puyi was driven out of the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace was turned from an imperial garden into a public park.
Today tourist normally enter the park through the east gate where there is a very large parking lot and accessible by many public buses. Additionally there are many restaurants around that serve great food.