The Lotus Pavilion and The Cuiwei Pavilion

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

The Lotus Pavilion is located on the hillside of the Fragrant Hill. Although it is called the Lotus Pavilion, there is no lotus inside. It is said that once Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty looked out from the pavilion, and was surprised to see that the hills on the northern side of the pavilion […]

The Lotus Pavilion is located on the hillside of the Fragrant Hill. Although it is called the Lotus Pavilion, there is no lotus inside. It is said that once Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty looked out from the pavilion, and was surprised to see that the hills on the northern side of the pavilion looked like beautiful lotuses. He then composed a poem on the hills, and named the pavilion “lotus”. In the year 1860, the pavilion was destroyed in a war, only the north stone wall of the pavilion with Emperor Qianlong’s imperial scripts on it was left. It was reconstructed during the Republican of China. Apart from the pavilion, some private villas were also built there.

The Cuiwei Pavilion (literally “the pavilion hidden in a secluded hill”) was built in the reign of Emperor Qianlong. It was named Cuiwei Pavilion because it was located in a natural environment with green trees and steep rocks. The pavilion that we see today is a reconstruction based on the original one which had been destroyed due to improper methods of protection. Emperors of the Qing Dynasty often came to the Cuiwei Pacilion and enjoyed scene of the beautiful apricot blossoms. Emperor Qianlong even composed a poem praising it which is called “the Sunny Western Hills after Snow”. When rebuilding the new pavilion, in order to restore the famous scene, the architect transplanted many apricots in the valley beneath the pavilion. The scene of the apricot blossoms from the pavilion is surely impressive.

The Fragrant Hills Park

The Temple of Azure Clouds

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Temples, by Jack Li

The Temple of Azure Clouds is one of the most delicate temples in the Fragrant Hills Park. Built around 1331 in the Yuan Dynasty, it has a history of more than 600 years. This complex used to be a nunnery. It was not until 1514 during which eunuch Yu Jing renovated and expanded the temple […]

The Temple of Azure Clouds is one of the most delicate temples in the Fragrant Hills Park. Built around 1331 in the Yuan Dynasty, it has a history of more than 600 years. This complex used to be a nunnery. It was not until 1514 during which eunuch Yu Jing renovated and expanded the temple that it became the Temple of Azure Clouds.

The most eye-catching feature of the Temple of Azure Clouds is its well-preserved historical and cultural relics, especially the Throne Pagoda. In 1748, Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty ordered another extension and a new Indian style throne pagoda was established inside the temple. It is said that the Emperor received a tributary throne pagoda model from India and the idea occurred to him to build a larger one just like it. Later, Emperor Qianlong wrote the story himself and ordered to have it inscribed on a tablet. This tablet was placed behind the Throne Pagoda was established and serves as a reminder of the history of this gorgeous pagoda.

On the first floor of the Throne Pagoda, you can find the cenotaph of Sun Yat-sen. In March 12th, 1925, Dr. Sun died in Beijing of illness, and his coffin was placed in the Temple of Azure Clouds. Later his coffin was moved away, and people built this cenotaph in memory of him and of his great contributions to China.

Apart from its historical values, the Throne Pagoda is also a very good viewing site because it stands on the highest spot of the temple. From inside the pagoda, you can enjoy all the beautiful scenes of the temple along with part of the Fragrant Hills.

The Fragrant Hills Park

The Jianxin Pavilion Garden

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

The Jianxin Pavilion Garden (literally “the garden of the mind-seeing pavilion”) is situated on the western side of the north gate of the Fragrant Hills Park next to the Yanjing Lake. Constructed during the years of Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty (1522-1566), it was the place where the emperors lectured the feudal officials. It has […]

The Jianxin Pavilion Garden (literally “the garden of the mind-seeing pavilion”) is situated on the western side of the north gate of the Fragrant Hills Park next to the Yanjing Lake. Constructed during the years of Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty (1522-1566), it was the place where the emperors lectured the feudal officials. It has undergone several renovations.

The Jianxin Pavilion Garden is one of the most famous gardens in the Fragrant Hills Park. It is a circular courtyard and covers an area of about 0.4 hectares. It has a southern garden style and contains many delicate pavilions, galleries and houses. Inside the yard there is a semi-circular pond of clear water with numerous red carp. Along the eastern, southern and northern part of the pond there are semi-circular galleries which are connected with the three waterside pavilions that are collectively called the Jianxin Pavilion.

The Garden does not lie on the main road of the Fragrant Hills, and visitors seldom discover the place. But it can be a place where you find calm and tranquility rarely felt in those spots swarmed with tourists.

The Fragrant Hills Park

The Yanjing Lake

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, Lakes, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

The Yanjing Lake (literally “the lake that looks like eye-glasses”) lies beside the north gate of the Fragrant Hills Park. It consists of two separated pools connected by a white stone bridge, forming a pair of eye-glasses, hence its name Yanjing. If you walk along the avenue from the Jianxin Pavilion Garden, you can hear […]

The Yanjing Lake (literally “the lake that looks like eye-glasses”) lies beside the north gate of the Fragrant Hills Park. It consists of two separated pools connected by a white stone bridge, forming a pair of eye-glasses, hence its name Yanjing. If you walk along the avenue from the Jianxin Pavilion Garden, you can hear the sound of water gurgling.

The right side of the lake is surrounded by steep rocks. There are so many rocks that they adopt a cave’s form. Whenever there is water flowing down from the hills to the lake, the entrance of the cave will be covered by a curtain of water. So this cave is called the Water Curtain Cave. It is a very good spot for taking pictures. To the southeast side of the Lake, there is a Nice-Day Pavilion built in 1992. Tourists can enjoy the calm and quiet of the whole lake scene there.

The Fragrant Hills Park

The Yunhui Tower

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, More Places of Interest, Towers, Pagodas & Grottoes, by Jack Li

The Yunhui Tower was built in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. It used to be in the imperial garden to the east of Zhongnanhai(the central government of China). The emperors in the Qing Dynasty often visited the tower and composed poems and drew paintings or enjoy the wonderful scene of the […]

The Yunhui Tower was built in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. It used to be in the imperial garden to the east of Zhongnanhai(the central government of China). The emperors in the Qing Dynasty often visited the tower and composed poems and drew paintings or enjoy the wonderful scene of the Taiye Lake there. In 1954, the then government wanted to establish new office buildings there. Because the tower has a unique architectural style, the famous architect Liang Sicheng suggested that it should be preserved and removed, not destroyed. Premier Zhou took the advice and ordered the removal of the tower to the Taoran-Pavilion Park. In 2000, the Yunhui Tower was renovated and now it looks much more impressive than it once did.

The Taoran-Pavilion Park 

The Taoran Pavilion

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

The Taoran Pavilion (literally “the pavilion of happiness and carefreeness”) is one of the four most famouse pavilions of historical values in China. In AD 1695, a minister named Jiang Zao took charge of a pottery factory nearby under the order of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. Since he had to handle official affairs […]

The Taoran Pavilion (literally “the pavilion of happiness and carefreeness”) is one of the four most famouse pavilions of historical values in China. In AD 1695, a minister named Jiang Zao took charge of a pottery factory nearby under the order of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty. Since he had to handle official affairs in the factory everyday, he thought that it would be nice to have a place for rest and recreation. After surveying the surrounding areas, he decided to build a pavilion by an elegant lake nearby. The pavilion was named “Taoran Pavilion” according to a poem by the great poet Bai Juyi. Because of its beautiful lake scene and poetic atmosphere, poets and painters regarded it as a must visit attraction. To them, the Taoran Pavilion is a sacred shrine for the cultivation of the mind.

The Taoran Pavilion ocuppies only 90 square meters, but it enjoys great reputation. On the southern and northern wall, you can see exquisite hieroglyphs. If you look out from inside the Pavilion, to the east there is the beautiful scene of the lake, and to the west, the Yunhui Tower and the Qingyin Pavilion. Jiang Zao and his friends often spent their leisure time in the pavilion, enjoying its tranquility away from the noisy world.

There are many other historical attractions around the Taoran Pavilion. You can find the Reeds Pavilion, the Tianni Pavilion, the Mountain-Watching Tower, the Baobing Hall, the Black Dragon Pool, the Dragon King’s Pavilion, the Temple of Nezha (a mythological person’s name), the Blackberry Garden, the Garden of the Ancestors, the Feng’s Garden, the relics of the pottery factory, the Aromatic Tomb, the Tomb of Parrot, and the Tomb of Sai Jinhua(a famous prostitute). Many of these attractions were built before the Taoran Pavilion. The Chinese poets and painters have great affections for them too. You can visit them alongside the Taoran Pavilion since they are relatively small in size.

The Taoran-Pavilion Park

The Nunnery of Benevolence

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, China Attractions, Historical Relics, by Jack Li

The Nunnery of Benevolence was built in the Yuan Dynasty and has a history of more than 700 years. The famous Taoran Pavilion actually belongs to this nunnery. The complex is sure to impress you for its splendour and neat layout. Since the Qing Dynasty, many famouse Chinese poets have visited nunnery, leaving a lot […]

The Nunnery of Benevolence was built in the Yuan Dynasty and has a history of more than 700 years. The famous Taoran Pavilion actually belongs to this nunnery. The complex is sure to impress you for its splendour and neat layout. Since the Qing Dynasty, many famouse Chinese poets have visited nunnery, leaving a lot of poems praising the beautiful scenery there.

The Nunnery of Benevolence is not only a scenic spot but also a museum. You can find the historical records of the Taoran-Pavilion Park in the nunnery. The stone scriptures from the Jin Dynasty(AD 1115-1234) and the Liao Dynasty (AD 905-1125) are also kept in the museum. Some of them tell the history of Beijing so that historians often go to the nunnery for the historical records.

The Taoran-Pavilion Park

The Cloud Dispelling Hall

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

The Cloud Dispelling Hall (simplified Chinese:排云殿; traditional Chinese: 排雲殿; pinyin: Pái Yún Diàn; literally “the Hall where the cloud is dispelled”) is at the centre in front of the Longevity Hill. It was built by Qianlong for his mother’s 60th birthday. It was burnt down by the British and French joint troops in 1860. In […]

The Cloud Dispelling Hall (simplified Chinese:排云殿; traditional Chinese: 排雲殿; pinyin: Pái Yún Diàn; literally “the Hall where the cloud is dispelled”) is at the centre in front of the Longevity Hill. It was built by Qianlong for his mother’s 60th birthday. It was burnt down by the British and French joint troops in 1860. In 1886, Empress Ci Xi reconstructed it and changed its name into “Cloud Dispelling Hall” to hold her Grand Birthday Ceremony. It also served as the place where the officials went to worship Ci Xi when she lived in the Summer Palace or on her birthday. Now the hall has on display many birthday presents from the imperial princes and ministers to Ci Xi.

The word “Pai Yun”, meaning “dispel the cloud”, is taken from a poem which describes the imminent appearance of the Gods out of the cloudy and misty hall. Viewed from a distance, the Cloud Dispelling Hall forms an ascending line together with the decorated archway, the Cloud Dispelling Gate, Golden-water Bridge and Ergong Gate, which is the most spectacular building complex in the Summer Palace.

Summer Palace

The Long Gallery

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, by Jack Li

The Long Gallery(simplified Chinese: 长廊; traditional Chinese: 長廊; pinyin: Cháng Láng; literally “the Long Gallery”) is located between the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The total length of the gallery is 728 meters, making it the longest gallery in the world. It is most famous for the colorful paintings on the roof of the […]

The Long Gallery(simplified Chinese: 长廊; traditional Chinese: 長廊; pinyin: Cháng Láng; literally “the Long Gallery”) is located between the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The total length of the gallery is 728 meters, making it the longest gallery in the world. It is most famous for the colorful paintings on the roof of the gallery. Some of them present sceneries of mountains and lakes, some depict beautiful flowers and birds, others even tell stories in classical Chinese literature such as A Dream of Red Mansion and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

There used to be no paintings along the Long Gallery. It is Empress Ci Xi who ordered to paint them. Why would she do so? It is said that although the Summer Palace was filled with beautiful sceneries, Empress Ci Xi felt bored after she had lived in it for a while. She hoped that she could see numerous different views without walking for a long time. Her servants then lighted her to the idea to paint the gallery with all kinds of attractions and stories. Soon after that, the Long Gallery became colorful. Empress Ci Xi was very satisfied with the renovated gallery.

Summer Palace

The Seventeen-arch Bridge

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Lakes, by Jack Li

The Seventeen-arch Bridge (simplified Chinese: 十七孔桥; traditional Chinese: 十七孔橋; pinyin: Shí Qī Kǒng Qiáo; literally “the Bridge of Seventeen arches”) stretches over the wide Kunming Lake. It is 150 metres in length and 8 metres in width, and is composed of seventeen arches, hence its name. It is the largest stone bridge in the country. […]

The Seventeen-arch Bridge (simplified Chinese: 十七孔桥; traditional Chinese: 十七孔橋; pinyin: Shí Qī Kǒng Qiáo; literally “the Bridge of Seventeen arches”) stretches over the wide Kunming Lake. It is 150 metres in length and 8 metres in width, and is composed of seventeen arches, hence its name. It is the largest stone bridge in the country. The beautiful streamline arch bridge drives away the emptiness of the Kunming Lake. On the railings on each side of the bridge there are all together 544 stone lions of diverse sizes and postures, and it has 59 more lions than famous Marco Polo Bridge. As you talk along the bridge, you can enjoy watching the interesting stone sculptures.

All of the inscribed boards on the Seventeen-arch Bridge are all written by Qianlong Emperor of the Qing Dynasty. One on the southern side of the bridge says “Xiudong Lingbo”, meaning that the bridge is like a rainbow stretching over the lake. Another one on the north side says “Lingtuo Yanyue”, comparing the bridge to a mythical animal lying across the water like a crescent moon. The night view of the bridge is particularly beautiful.

How was the Seventeen-arch Bridge built?

According to folklore, when the bridge was built, many skilled craftsmen were invited to join the project. The Chinese white jade stone was all excavated by hand in the Stone Nest and transferred to the site by man power. One day a man came to the construction site. He was in his seventies and has long hair and a dusty face. He walked around with a box on his back and shouted repeatedly, “Does anyone want to buy Dragon-gate stone?” The workers thought he was mad because he looked dirty, and no one listened to him.

The old man stayed on the site for three days shouting. But still, no one took any notice. So he walked away from the site. He was taking a rest under a tree when suddenly it began to rain. He was shivering all over. Right at the moment, Wang Daye who lived nearby walked past the tree. He saw the poor old man and took him into his own house.

Wang offered him a place to live in and things to eat. The old man stayed there for a whole year, chiselling the stone he had carried. One morning he said to Wang, “I’m leaving. I’ll never forget your kindness. I’ll give you the stone in return.” Wang did not think the stone was anything special and asked the man to take it with him. The old man said, “This stone will be priceless. You’ll see.” Then he left.

The construction of the Seventeen-arch Bridge was almost completed. Qianlong Emperor was also prepared to come and inspect it in a few days. However, the last stone at the centre of the bridge would not fit however hard the craftsmen tried. It was such an emergency because the emperor would be very angry to see the bridge unfinished still. At that moment somebody spoke of the old man with the Dragon-gate stone, and the chief engineer sent people to look for him.

They soon got new of the whereabouts of the stone. The chief engineer went to Wang’s house and found the stone under the window. He measured it and it fit precisely. They bought the stone from Wang and fixed it onto the bridge. The project was complete!

Afterwards, the craftsmen talked about this and decided that the old man was no other than Lu Ban, the most famous carpenter and builder in China who lived in 5 B.C. His spirit had come specially to help them build the bridge!

Summer Palace

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