Beijng Zoo (Beijing Dongwu Yuan)

On August 15, 2011, in Beijing, Must-sees, Other Places of Interest, by Jack Li

Beijing zoo (simplified Chinese:北京动物园; traditional Chinese:北京動物園; pinyin:Běijīng dòng wù yuán; literally “Beijing Zoo”) is located in the Xicheng District and it is the largest city zoo in China. The land was the royal manor in the Ming Dynasty, and in the Qing Dynasty was the private garden of Fukang’an who is the third son of […]

Beijing zoo (simplified Chinese:北京动物园; traditional Chinese:北京動物園; pinyin:Běijīng dòng wù yuán; literally “Beijing Zoo”) is located in the Xicheng District and it is the largest city zoo in China. The land was the royal manor in the Ming Dynasty, and in the Qing Dynasty was the private garden of Fukang’an who is the third son of minister Fuheng and also the relative of the emperor. People called it Sanbei Zi Garden. The east part of the garden was called Leshan Garden and the west part of the garden was called Ke Garden. In 1906, the two gardens combined into one and collected some animals, then they called it the ten thousand animals’ garden.

After the founding of People’s Republic of China, the garden was renovated and turned into the western suburbs’ park. In 1955, the name of the garden changed into Beijing Zoo. The zoo covers an area of 50 hectares. The construction area is about 50000 square meters and the animals’ activity land is about 60000 square meters. All the kinds of animals have their special houses. This includes the Rhinoceros House, the Hippo House and the Lion and Tiger Hill. There is also Bear Hill, Monkey Hill, Deer Park and Elephant House as well as Antelope House. Other interesting houses are Giraffe House, Panda House, Marine Animal House and Orangutan House. Also Amphibian and Reptile houses, Poultry House and Small Zoo are all part of Beijing Zoo. There are some special Chinese precious animals that live here, like pandas, gibbons, and golden monkeys from Sichuan, Guizhou, and Yunnan provinces. Also Manchurian tigers, cloud leopards, snow leopards, white-lipped deer and elk. Others animals include wild horses, wild ass and Asian elephants as well as crested ibis, red-crowned cranes and alligators. Some animals represent countries from all over the world for example gorillas, kangaroo and America leopards. Others are Mexico manatees, giant anteaters and America bisons. Also there are sloths, white lions and African elephants there. Beijing Zoo has been successfully bred newborn animals as well. In the zoo there is a stream, rockery and winding paths. Also it has flowers, a children’s amusement park and activity land for animals, a dining room and other service facilities.

Beijing Zoo attractions:

Panda House

Giraffe House

Amphibious and reptiles House

Monkey Hill

Monkey Hill is located in the southeast of the Beijing Zoo. The hill was built in 1949 and it has the longest history and also is the only Monkey Hill. The Monkey Hill covers an area of 1000 square meters. There are two rockeries in the center of the field and a rope ladder hangs between them. Also it has some other facilities for monkeys to play. In 2007, the Monkey Hill was closed because they built the viaduct. It was protected by people so that visitors could not see the monkeys until it was reopened. And now the new Monkey Hill has opened. The monkeys are not afraid of people and they like to play with people. By the way, visitors have the chance to get close to the monkeys. Be careful some lovely monkeys will walk close to you and stare at you. They are very clever and can rob you. The monkeys may take food or drinks from you or even phones or something else valuable.

 

 

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The Palace Museum

On August 12, 2011, in Beijing, Forbidden City, Museums, Palaces, by Jack Li

The Palace Museum is located in the center of Beijing, formerly known as the Forbidden City. It was accomplished in the 18th year during the reign of Yongle Emperor in Ming dynasty (1420). It was the imperial palace in Ming and Qing dynasty. It is a unique masterpiece of ancient architecture and the largest, the […]

The Palace Museum is located in the center of Beijing, formerly known as the Forbidden City. It was accomplished in the 18th year during the reign of Yongle Emperor in Ming dynasty (1420). It was the imperial palace in Ming and Qing dynasty. It is a unique masterpiece of ancient architecture and the largest, the most complete ancient wooden structure building. All buildings of the Palace Museum are divided into two parts — ‘outer court’ and ‘inner court’. The Palace Museum was surrounded by a moat named ‘Tube River’. The area of the Palace Museum is rectangular. At each of the four corners stands turret. Each of the four sides is pierced by a gate. The Meridian Gate (wumen) is at the south side. It is the front door of The Palace Museum. The east door is Donghuamen; the west door is Xihuamen; the north door is the Gate of Devine Might.

The Palace Museum was built from 1406 to 1420 by the third Ming emperor Yongle (Zhudi) who decided to move his capital north from Nanjing to Beijing. Measuring 961 meters from north to south and 753 meters from east to west, the Palace Museum covers an area of 725,000 square meters. The buildings occupy 155,000 square meters. It was said that the Palace Museum had 9999.5 rooms in total. You may be curious about how does the half room come out. According to the myth, god has 10000 rooms in his palace. As the emperor claimed he was the son of god, he should show the respect of god, so he could not own the same number of rooms. But he wanted to show he was superior to others, at the end he compromised to reduce half room. There is a vivid explanation describing the large number of rooms in the Palace Museum – if a person every day lived in a different room in the Palace Museum since he or she was born, it would take 27 years to find oneself in the same room. In fact the real number of rooms in the Palace Museum is 8704, according to the survey made by experts in 1973. The Palace Museum is surrounded by 12-meter high and 3400-meter long walls. Outside of the walls, there is a 52-meter wide moat. All of those form a well-protected fortress.

The Palace Museum Attractions

The Gate of Devine Might

The Hall of Supreme Harmony

Palace of Heavenly Purity

Zhenfei Well

The Imperial Garden

The Palace Museum Story

1.   Cold Palace

Before introducing ‘Cold Palace’, first we should know ‘Sangong and Liuyuan’ which is the inner court of the Palace Museum. ‘Sangong’ refers to the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Jiaotai and Palace of Kunning. ‘Liuyuan’ refers to the eastern six smaller palaces and the western six smaller palaces of ‘Sangong’. Emperor could have many wives. ‘Sangong and Liuyuan’ is where his wives lived. If some wives lost his love, he would locate them in the ‘Cold Palace’ and not allow them to leave it until he wanted to see them. There was no certain building named ‘Cold Palace’. It could be any building which was remote and shabby. It was said that there used to be several ‘Cold Palaces’ during Ming and Qing dynasties.

2.   There is no tree in the three halls

The Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Central Harmony, and the Hall of Preserving Harmony are called as the three halls in the outer court. The three halls is the places where emperor holding ceremonies. The three halls are located in the center of the Palace Museum; they are also the heart of Beijing. Architects used different methods to highlight the majesty of the three halls. No trees were allowed to be planted in the yard. When people went to visit emperor, through many magnificent buildings, their sublimity was increasing. And when they arrived at the three majestic halls and the extensive yard without tree, the sublimity would reach the peak. Then when they met with emperor, they would be more careful about their behavior and words and more afraid of emperor. That what the emperor wanted. If the Palace Museum was full of trees and birds singing in them, the majestic atmosphere would disappear.

The second reason why there are no trees in the any of the halls is that emperor belongs to the ‘earth’ in the five elements (in ancient China, people believed all the objects in the world can be classified in to the five elements. They are water, fire, gold, wood and earth. The five elements complement and restrict each other). ‘Wood’ restricts ‘earth’. So emperor would not allow his place having trees.

The third reason is to assure the safety of emperor and officials, as assassins could hide in the tress.

Songshan National Nature Reserve of Beijing

On August 11, 2011, in Beijing, More Places of Interest, Nature Scenery, by Jack Li

Songshan National Nature Reserve of Beijing is on the southern side of Mount Haituo in Yanqing County of Beijing. It was established under the approval of the Beijing Municipal Government in 1985 and was elevated to a state-level reserve the next year. The Reserve is an attempt to protect temperate forest ecosystem largely composed of […]

Songshan National Nature Reserve of Beijing is on the southern side of Mount Haituo in Yanqing County of Beijing. It was established under the approval of the Beijing Municipal Government in 1985 and was elevated to a state-level reserve the next year. The Reserve is an attempt to protect temperate forest ecosystem largely composed of natural pinus tabulaeformis forest.

The Reserve occupies an area of a total of 4,660 hectares with 1,394.2 hectares tourist enclosure. It is a world of undulating mountains and lush vegetation. The old pines grow in various shapes and forms; clear cool mountain-streams gurgle past the jagged rocks. Mount Haituo, the main peak within the Reserve, stands 2,241 m above sea level and is the second highest peak in Beijing. The Reserve contains 50 hectares of natural pinus tabulaeformis forest, the only one of its kind in Northern China, as well as a broad-leaved forest of well-preserved Juglans mandshuricas, lidens, Fraxinus chinenses, elms, birches, etc. There has been record of the luxuriance of the woods since as early as the Year of Jiaqing in the Qing Dynasty. Apart from the pinus forest, there are more than 30 other scenic spots, such as Baipuquan (Hundred-fall Fountain), Baxiandong (Cave of the Eight Immortals), Songyuetan (Pool of the Pine and the Moon), Xiongshiyinshui (Lion Drinking Water), Feilongbi (Flying-dragon Cliff) and Sandieshui. The Reserve is also home to a wide range of wildlife, including more than 600 spermatophytes, 700 vascular plants, 600 backboned animal species and 70 higher animals. Animals under special state protection such as leopard and gorals can also be found here.

The reserve offers a soothing treat for the eye and the mind as you roam about within the richness of the forest and the magnificence of the mountains. Here you can enjoy the distant view of the verdant landscape and observe the picturesque forest scenes at the same time. Due to its elevated topography, the mountain climate of the Songshan Reserve is temperate and pleasant with an annual average temperature of 7 degrees Celsius, 4 degrees lower than that of the urban zone. The Songshan thermal spring is an ideal place for bathing and rehabilitation. Its water temperature stays at 45 degrees Celsius and the water yield amounts to 2,000 m3. The spring-water contains 27 chemical elements, and the amount of fluorine is as high as 12 ml/l, which proves effective cure for skin diseases, arthritis and partial neuralgia. On the whole, the Songshan National Nature Reserve is site for scientific research and tourist and health resort perfectly combined.

Yuanming Yuan

On August 5, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Must-sees, by Jack Li

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 […]

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.

The Fragrant Hills Park

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, Parks & Gardens, Valleys and Scenic Spots, by Jack Li

The Fragrant Hills Park is situated in the west suburban area of Beijing and covers 180 hectares. It is a royal garden featuring wooded mountains. In 1956, the Fragrant Hills were open to the public. During the past 50 years, the Fragrant Hills Park has been one of the favourite attractions of both domestic and […]

The Fragrant Hills Park is situated in the west suburban area of Beijing and covers 180 hectares. It is a royal garden featuring wooded mountains. In 1956, the Fragrant Hills were open to the public. During the past 50 years, the Fragrant Hills Park has been one of the favourite attractions of both domestic and foreign tourists.

The Fragrant Hills was recognized as a place of cultural heritage since as early as 1186. The temple of the Fragrant Hills used to be the No. 1 of all the temples in Beijing. It holds a large collection of historical relics, such as the Temple of Azure Clouds, Shuangqing Villa where Chairman Mao used to live and work, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, wooden statues of the 500 Arhats with gold foil (the only group that has survived in the country), and the southern-styled classical garden the Mind-Seeing Courtyard. Its natural scenery is also fantastic. The Fragrant Hills Park the oxygen bar of Beijing. It is known for its distinctive seasonal sceneries—blossoms in spring, coolness in summer, red leaves in autumn and snow in winter. In the park there is a wide variety of trees with a forest coverage of 96% including more than 5,800 ancient and rare trees. The park also features mountains and fountains, and the red leaves scenery is especially renowned throughout the world. It is the most impressive sight in autumnal Beijing. In October and November, thousands of visitors gather in the Fragrant Hills Park to feast their eyes on the spectacular sight.

The Fragrant Hills Park Attractions

The Yanjing Lake

The Jianxin Pavilion Garden

The Lotus Pavilion and The Cuiwei Pavilion

The Temple of Azure Clouds

The Fragrant Hills Park Story

The Sunny Western Hills after Snow

Nowadays, “the Sunny Western Hills after Snow” is used to describe the snowy mountainous scene of the Fragrant Hills. But originally it meant something else. It is said that once upon a time Emperor Qianlong visited the Fragrant Hills. When he was walking past the Green Dragon Bridge he spotted an area of what he thought was white snow in the valley in the distance. As he came close to the valley, he saw that the “snow” was actually the white blossoms of 100 thousand apricots. The blossoms sways gracefully in the breeze and gave off a sweet refreshing scent. Qianlong was overwhelmed and wrote down “Xishan Qingxue” (the sunny western hills after snow) to name the beautiful scene.

The Taoran-Pavilion Park

On August 3, 2011, in Beijing, China Attractions, Cool Places, Must-sees, Nature Scenery, by Jack Li

Taoran-Pavilion Park (literally “the park of content and carefreeness”) is located on the northwest side of Taoran Bridge on the South No.2 Ringroad. It covers an area of 56.56 hectares, with 16.15 of lake area. Set up in 1952, it is the first park built in Beijing after the founding of PRC. This place has […]

Taoran-Pavilion Park (literally “the park of content and carefreeness”) is located on the northwest side of Taoran Bridge on the South No.2 Ringroad. It covers an area of 56.56 hectares, with 16.15 of lake area. Set up in 1952, it is the first park built in Beijing after the founding of PRC. This place has been famous since ancient times and holds diverse historical relics. The renowned Taoran Pavilion and the Nunnery of Benevolence are both situated here. It is a place of both lovely garden scenery and rich cultural sights. On the island in the centre of the lake there are two hills—Jinqiudun (the mound of the rich autumn) and Yantou Hill (the hill in the shape of a swallow’s head). On the top of Jinqiudun is the site of Huaxian Temple (the temple of the Fairy of Flowers). To the south of the temple at the bottom of the hill you can see Rose Hill which is the site of Yuanxiang Tomb, Parrot Tomb and the Tomb of Saijinhua (1970/1864-1936, a legendry prostitute of China). In the secluded pine woods to the north of the temple is situated the famous Gaojun House and Shi Pinmei Tomb. On the top of Yantou Hill you can see Lancui Pavilion. As the name suggest, it is the perfect place to view the lake and the mountains. Inside Taoran-pavilion Park there is a small park called the Park of the Famed Pavilions of China. It was built in 1985 in the imitation of a select series of the well-known pavilions in China. Inside you can find the replicas of Duxing Pavilion (the pavilion of the only one who is sober) in Hunan Province in honour of Qu Yuan (a famous patriotic poet in the Warring States Period of China), Shaoling Caotang Tablet Pavilion in Sichuan Province in honour of Du Fu (a renowned poet of the Tang Dynasty), Orchid Pavilion and Erchi Tablet Pavilion in honour of Wang Xizhi (the most famous calligrapher of China of the Jin Dynasty); Two-Fountain Pavilion in Jiangxi Province in honour of Lu Yu (a famous writer of Tang), Jinyue Pavilion (the pavilion of the dipping moon) in Jiangxi Province in honour of Bai Juyi (a celebratede poet of Tang), and Zuiweng Pavilion (the pavilion of the tipsy old man) in Anhui Province in honour of Ou Yangxiu (a distinguished writer and historian of the Earlier Song Dynasty). In addition, there are Zhexian Pavilion (the pavilion of the descending Fairy) built in the contemporary times in honour of the most well-known poet of China, Li Bai, as well as Yunhui Tower and Qingyin Pavilion (the pavilion of heavenly music) which were removed from Zhongnanhai (the central government of China). With all these delicate replicas, tourists can appreciate Chinese-style architecture in Taoran-Pavilion Park without going into the trouble of too much travel.

Taoran-Pavilion Park Attractions:

The Nunnery of Benevolence

Yunhui Tower

Taoran Pavilion

Taoran-Pavilion Park Story

The Site of Sai Jinhua Tomb

Sai Jinhua Tomb is located on Jinqiu Mount in Taoran-Pavilion Park. Sai Jinhua (1871-1936) is a legendry Chinese prostitute. Sai was very beautiful as a girl, and was sold into prostitution. In 1887, Hong Jun, who came first in the highest imperial examination, met Sai by chance and took her as his second concubine. The previous prostitute thus became “Mrs. First”. At that time, Hong was 48 and Sai was only 15. Not long after that, Hong was appointed the Chinese Minister to Reich. Sai accompanied him abroad as “Mrs. Minister”. She was introduced to the Emperor and the Queen of Reich who were greatly impressed by Sai’s beauty and class. During her three-year stay in Reich, Sai learned to speak fluent German.

In the early 1890s, Hong and Sai returned to China. Soon Hong died of illness. Then Sai was in her twenties. She went back to Shanghai and picked up her old business. After a while, she came up to Beijing and became extremely well-known throughout the city. Because Sai liked to dress in man’s clothes, she was also called “Junior Master Sai”.

In 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces invaded Beijing and started to kill and pillage. One night several soldiers knocked at the door of Sai’s house. Sai came out and greeted them. The soldiers were taken by surprised to see that a famous prostitute of China could speak good German. Sai told them that she was a friend of the Emperor William Ⅱ and Queen Victoria; she also showed them the picture of the three of them taken years ago. The soldiers recognized the Emperor and the Queen, and immediately saluted her.

The next day the German soldiers sent a car to pick up Sai to meet Waldersee, the commander of the Eight-Power Allied Forces. Sai had some experience in dealing with foreign affairs and was a very skillful speaker. At that time there was a lot of killing going on in Beijing. Rumor has it that Sai said to Waldersee, “Reich is a civilized country and values reputation as much as life. Its army should be known for its discipline, not savageness.” The next day, Waldersee issued an order forbidding violence. The story got out and Sai was called “Junior Master Sai the Negotiator” for having saved the people from sufferings.

Afterwards, Sai married again. After her husband died, she returned to Beijing. Although young no longer, she was still an elegant sight. Soon she married a senator of the then Chinese national government, Wesley. After Wesley died four years later, Sai became destitute and moved to the ghetto of Beijing, living on other people’s donations. In 1936, Sai reached the end of her life. With the help of some donors, Sai was buried on Jinqiu Mount. Zhang Daqian, a renowned Chinese painter, provided to do her portrait, and Qi Baishi, another celebrated painter, wrote the inscription for her tombstone.

Water Cube (Shuilifang)

On August 2, 2011, in Activities, Beijing, Modern Architecture, by Jack Li

The Water Cube is on the west side of the Olympic Park. It stands opposite the Birds’ Nest, National stadium. The size of the Water Cube is 80,000 square meters. The membrane wrapping the construction is the most appealing part. It is made by ETFE (Ethyl Tetra Fluoro Ethylene). The ETFE membrane is transparent, so […]

The Water Cube is on the west side of the Olympic Park. It stands opposite the Birds’ Nest, National stadium. The size of the Water Cube is 80,000 square meters. The membrane wrapping the construction is the most appealing part. It is made by ETFE (Ethyl Tetra Fluoro Ethylene). The ETFE membrane is transparent, so the sun can shine through and brings natural light into the arena. Inside the arena there is a multi-story building which is full of well-organized seats with fantastic views of the pool. The oyster white architecture and the dark blue pool form a delightful contrast.

The Water Cube has a simple square design, which is very traditional for Chinese ancient culture but has a modern appearance. Chinese people think that nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards, which the Chinese call Fangyuan. Fang means square and Yuan means round. Ancient Chinese people thought that the sky was round while the ground was square. This inspired designers to build a square Water Cube and a round Birds’ Nest. The square shape is also the most used pattern in ancient urban city design, which reflects a social rule that Chinese people attach great importance to norms and standards. In addition, Water Cube is able to satisfy many functions for National Swimming Center, which combine the traditional culture demands and modern functions together.

In Chinese culture, water is an important natural element which cheers people up. The National Swimming Center will be built into Beijing’s biggest water park. Designers intended to provide a variety of entertainment for people of all ages and use water in many different ways. They hoped that water could enrich daily lives and stimulate people’s inspiration and enthusiasm.

The outside of the Water Cube was designed to look like a water molecule. By doing this, the designers made it look like bubbles. They covered the cube with an outer skin to look like particles. The skin seems like ice crystals, gently covering the concrete structure. Many technological and environmental ideas were applied in the Water Cube including natural ventilation, water reuse systems and high-tech building materials. There are innovations in the swimming pool too, for example they use outdoor air to bring up to the surface of the pool. Also there are holes in the end of the pool, and signals sent by audio and sound. These technologies make the Water Cube the most advanced swimming pool in the world and this helps professional swimmers to perform well.

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Yuanming Yuan

On July 27, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Parks & Gardens, by Jack Li

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 […]

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.

Summer Palace (Yiheyuan)

On July 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, Must-sees, Summer Palace, by Jack Li

The Summer Palace (simplified Chinese: 颐和园; traditional Chinese: 頤和園; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony”) is mainly dominated by the Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. Situated on the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. It used to be one […]

The Summer Palace (simplified Chinese: 颐和园; traditional Chinese: 頤和園; pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; literally “Gardens of Nurtured Harmony”) is mainly dominated by the Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. Situated on the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. It used to be one of the temporary imperial palaces for the Qing Dynasty Emperors. The Summer Palace today is the largest royal park in China, and is well preserved as a Key Culture Relics Protection Site. It holds a collection of ancient arts and also has breathtaking sceneries and magnificent architecture. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The Summer Palace is actually a reconstruction based on the Qingyi Palace. In AD 1750, Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty spent 4.48 million silver dollars on establishing the Qingyi Palace, a present to his mother, Xiaosheng. This palace served to connect four other royal palaces, forming a splendid imperial garden. However, in AD 1860, the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng, Qingyi Palace was burnt down during the war with Britain and France. Later in AD 1888, the last Empress in Chinese history, Ci Xi, wanted to hold a grand ceremony to celebrate her 60th birthday. In the name of raising war funds, she levied a heavy tax on people and gathered more than 5 million silver dollars, which was enough for the reconstruction. Then she asked one of the most outstanding architects in Qing Dynasty, Changyan Lei to take charge of the project. The new palace was named the Summer Palace. It was frequently visited by the royal family in summer because of its cool environment and its beautiful lake scene. Although the Summer Palace experienced a terrible devastation in AD 1900 and was looted of almost all its treasures, it remains stunningly beautiful. A tour around the Summer Palace is undoubtedly a feast for eye. If you are planning to travel to Beijing, remember to put it in your schedule, because if you do not visit the Summer Palace your trip in Beijing.

Summer Palace Attractions

The Kunming Lake

The Seventeen-arch Bridge

The Long Gallery

The Cloud Dispelling Hall

Summer Palace Story

1. The Cold Palace

To understand where the Cold Palace is, we have to talk about the concubines of the emperor. The feudal emperor had supreme power and he could pick whoever he wanted to be his concubine. Therefore, the emperor had a great number of concubines living in the royal palace. However, if a concubine became out of favour with the emperor, she was left to rot in the palace because she could not leave the palace at will. This was the most tragic end. The Cold Palace of the Summer Palace does not refer to a particular palace; anyplace where those concubines or sons of the emperor were imprisoned is commonly called “the Cold Palace”. And there were several such places in the Summer Palace. Cheng Fei, one of the imperial concubines at the end of the Ming Dynasty, offended the powerful eunuch Wei Zhong xian, and was taken from Changchun Palace(where the concubines lived in the Imperial Palace) to Qianxi in the western part of the Summer Palace, and lived there for four years. Many other concubines had also been driven there. It is said that the most favoured concubine of Guangxu Emperor, Zhen Fei, was shut inside the Beisan Tower to the north of Jingqi Tower, before she was drowned in the well by the order of Empress Ci Xi. The place was destroyed but it still can be traced on the west of Zhen Fei Well.

2. Empress Ci Xi’s meals in the Summer Palace

Being the last empress of China, Empress Ci Xi was famous for her luxurious lifestyle. When she stayed in the Summer Palace, the servants had to prepare hundreds of delicious dishes for her. All the dishes she took could be divided into meat dishes, vegetable dishes, pastry, and fried snacks. The chefs used all kinds of precious ingredients such as pearl powder, bear’s paw, edible bird’s nest, etc.

Empress Ci Xi greatly enjoyed the dishes cooked with flowers. She loved chicken soup with chrysanthemum petals. Sometimes when she was wandering inside the palace, she would even pick a chrysanthemum and eat it. Apart from this, she also liked to take them with tea, which became quite popular among the common Chinese people. Rose, lotus, and lily teas were her favorites.

Every meal of Empress Ci Xi’s was like a grand ceremony. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner there would be more than a hundred different dishes, and for high tea, about fifty dishes. All the dishes were very elaborately prepared. Take the rice as an example, every grain in the rice were carefully selected by the maids. It was quite a tedious job. The cost of one single meal of Ci Xi equals the annual living expenses of an ordinary family.

To sustain her extravagance, she levied heavy taxes on the people. Many people started to resist her rule. She was very afraid that somebody might poison her dishes, so she asked a servant to put a silver needle in every dish before she ate them. If the dish was poisoned, the needle would lose brightness and turn dark.

3. The Tower of Buddhist Incense

It’s said that the Tower of the Buddhist Incense (simplified Chinese: 佛香阁; traditional Chinese: 佛香阁; pinyin:Fóxiāng Gé; literally “the Tower of Buddhist Incense”) was built to drive away the ghosts.

When Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty decided to build a royal palace there, he wanted to remove the Longevity Hill so that the Kunming Lake would be larger. However, when the builders dug half-way down the hill, they were surprised to see that they had reached a grave. The tombstone was inscribed “Queen Wen”. The builders didn’t know what to do with the grave, so they past the news onto the Emperor. Queen Wen was a real character in Chinese history. She was the wife of Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1206-1368). Since she possessed extraordinary political wisdom, Kublai Khan loved her very much and held an elaborate funeral for her after she had died. No wonder Emperor Qianlong was curious about those exquisite antiques buried with her. So he went to the construction site and asked the builders to open the tomb. When they got into the tomb, they found a curse inscribed by the entrance, saying ”Whoever disturbs the tomb would be severely punished.”. Emperor Qianlong got really scared, so he told the builders to close the grave and then he ran away. Later, he went to a great Buddhist master and asked him how to avoid Queen Wen’s revenge. The master said that if he built a Buddhist tower on top of the Longevity Hill, the ghost of Queen Wen would be locked up and she would not bring any harm. Qianlong followed his advice, and that is how the Tower of Buddhist Incense came into being.

Beijing Private Tour Guide

On November 3, 2010, in Adventure Trip, Beijing, Must-sees, Tips & Ideas, by Jack Li

China now is the most famous tourism country which has attracted millions of tourists coming from the world. China Tours is not a new world any more, and travel fans are going to have a look at this beautiful country, so just book a China Flights and join us. For most new comers, the most […]

China now is the most famous tourism country which has attracted millions of tourists coming from the world. China Tours is not a new world any more, and travel fans are going to have a look at this beautiful country, so just book a China Flights and join us.

For most new comers, the most attractive city in China is Beijing. It is the capital of China, and the political and cultural center of this country. Now, I will be your guide for Beijing Travel, and share some travel tips. Hope you have a better understanding of this beautiful city.

Historical views

Beijing has a long history and was built in Qing Dynasty, the well-know sites were constructed during this time, such as the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, and many others.

The Forbidden City, also known as the National Palace Museum, is located in the center of Beijing. It is the Ming and Qing imperial palace of two generations, unparalleled masterpieces of ancient architecture; it was the largest remaining in the world and the most complete ancient buildings. Hailed as the world’s first top-five Palace, the Forbidden City was commissioned by the third Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Emperor Yong Le. The palace was built between 1406 and 1420, but was burnt down, rebuilt, sacked and renovated countless times, so most of the architecture you can see today dates from the 1700’s and on wards. The Forbidden City was the seat of Imperial power for 500 years, and is now a major tourist attraction in China. It was said that there are more than 9 thousands rooms in the Forbidden City; can you imagine that it will take more than 20 years if you want to live in the rooms, one by one? Yes, that’s it! I guess maybe this is the most amazing characteristics of the ancient buildings and that’s why people always want to have a visit here.

Royal Garden

One of the most wonderful royal gardens is the Summer Palace; it is another favorite among tourists sightseeing in Beijing. Indeed, it is one of the best parks in the city. Originally it was a retreat for emperors to escape the hot summer heat of Beijing. The Summer Palace was used by emperors for 800 years, but fell into disuse in the 18th century. Then in the 19th century, the Empress Dowager Cixi made massive renovations and restored many buildings using money funneled out from the state treasury. In the park, both the mountains and the lake will give you a totally different northern view of China.

Olympic Games Sites

It is well-known that China has hold the 29th Olympic Games and many brand-new stadiums have been building for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The National Stadium, also know as the Bird’s Nest, and Water Cube – National Swimming Center are the most popular ones among them. The National Stadium was the main track and field stadium for the 2008 Summer Olympics and has hosted to the Opening and Closing ceremonies, even thought the Olympic Games was over, the stadium now is used to hold famous music concert, famous musicians such as Langlang, and others have played here, you can have a good appreciate the amazing performs. Another famous one is the Water Cube; it is famous as the paradise of Water. When the night comes, the cover of the Water Cube is colorful, changing its “clothes” every ten minutes.


Beijing has been the World City, with modern facilities and ancient historical sites, that’s one of the reasons why it is so popular in the world. However, after Beijing Tours you can have a view to other cities, such as Travel to Shanghai, Travel to Xi’an, and many other beautiful attractions, in all, China will never disappoint you.

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