Yuanming Yuan is located in the northwest suburb of Beijing since Qing dynasty. In 1709, Emperor Kangxi bestowed it to his 4th son Yinzhen (who later became Emperor Yongzheng) and named it “Yuanming Yuan”. With the elaborate operation of five emperors Yongzheng, Qianlong, Jiaqing, Daoguang and Xianfeng, who had centralized a great deal of material resources, used countless skilled craftmen, and made uncountable labourors devote their blood and sweat to the project, finally Yuanming Yuan became a magnificent and beautiful resting palace.

When it came to midsummer, Qing emperors would come to spend the summer, go to court and handle military-political affairs in Yuanming Yuan, and so in the past, it was also called “Summer Palace”. Yuanming Yuan stretches 10 kilometers, consisting of Yuanming Yuan, Wanchun Yuan and Changchun Yuan. Yuanming Yuan is the biggest of them all; hence the entire scenic location was named after it. In addition, there are many accessory gardens distributed between the south, west and south of Yuanming Yuan. For example, Jingyi yuan in Fragrance Hill, Jingming Yuan and Qingyi Yuan in Yuquan Hill. The total area of Yuanming Yuan is over 5000 mou (335 hectares).

Yuanming Yuan has not only collected many famous scenic parks in regions south of the Yangtze River, but also transplanted western garden architecture. Therefore the garden embodies garden art from China and all over the world from the past and the present. There are magnificent palaces, exquisite airy pavilions and pagodas; “Business Streets”that symbolizes bustling markets, “Mountain Villa” that symbolizes the scenery of countryside; autumn moon over the calm lake and leifeng pagoda in evening glow that imitate the west lake of Hangzhou; famous scenic sites that imitates the lion forest garden in Suzhou; archtectures that were built by imitating poetic and artistic imagination of ancient poets and painters, such as the immortal abode on Penglai island and spring scenery in Wuling. It is observed that Yuanming Yuan is not only the crystallization of wisdom and sweat of Chinese labourers, but also the paradigm of Chinese archtecural art and culture. What’s more, Yuanming Yuan has treasured countless priceless assets, rare anicent records and precious historical relics such as painting and calligraphy in successive dynasties, gold, silver and jewelry, as well as porcelain in Song and Yuan Dynasty. Therefore, Yuanming Yuan is considered the thesaurus of human culture and one of the biggest museums in the world.

Yuanming Yuan is a large garden created by manual work, awe-inspring in size and design. Piling up hills and laying out waters in flats, refining garden architecture, diffusely planting trees and flowers make Yuanming Yuan an amazing sight. Continuous massifs, flexuose water level, pavilions, winding corridors, isles, and dike bridges cut the vast space into hundreds of scenery groups with hills and waters. The water space takes up two fifth area of Yuanming Yuan. Waters that were excavated in flats by manual work, collected in series to a complete water network by winding watercourses. There stands 250 artificial mounds, conjoining water systems and forming garden space. Fundamentally, Yuanming Yuan is a beautifully graceful region of rivers and lakes in southern China.

Yuanming Yuan Attractions

Garden of Ten Thousand Spring Seasons

European palaces

Yuanming Yuan Story

Penglai Yao Tai (an immortal abode on Penglai Island)

Penglai Yao Tai in Fuhai is based on the fairytale The Island of The Blessed, whose old name is Penglai Zhou. According to the legend Qin Shi Huang ( the first Emperor of Qin Dynasty) once sent a man named Xufu to lead a thousand young boys and girls to take a sea-voyage eastward, in an attempt to look for a fairyland for him. However, it cannot be anything but “voyagers talk about Yingzhou. Mists and billows are vague, so it is hard to reach the destination”.

As a result, Emperor Yongzheng ordered craftsmen to pile up three islands with rocks in the east lake of Yuanming Yuan, symbolizing the Penglai, Yingzhou and Fangzhang legend. They built airy pavilions and pagodas on the islands, which looked like five gold temples with jade floors.

Based on the implied meaning of “Xufu seek in the sea”, East Lake was named “Fuhai”. The sea is surrounded by over ten beautiful garden sites. Fuhai is six hundred meters wide; with a total area of 35 hectares. If you include the surrounding water areas, the area is equivalent to the water area of Beihai Park. The surface of the water is wide, allowing for large-scale dragon boat race activities to be held on dragon boat festival every year.On the evening of July 15th, Qing emperors would come here to enjoy the sight of floating river lanterns. In winter, when the lake was frozen, emperors would roam on Fuhai by sled. In fact, Fuhai is the water amusement center of Yuanming Yuan.

Jack Li

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