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small map of Summer Palace

Map of Yiheyuan (Summer Palace). Click picture for large map with place names.

NEW -- July 21, 2010

The beautiful city of Suzhou crisscrossed with narrow water canals

颐和园Yiheyuan is located in the northwest of Beijing city. Built in 1153 by the first emperor of the 金朝Jin Dynasty (12th century) who set up his capital in Beijing (then called 燕京Yanjing) after he took control of the northern part of the 宋朝Song empire (960-1279). During the 清朝Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and especially during 乾隆Qianlong's reign(1736-1795), the garden was heavily renovated and enlarged.  The present garden occupies an area of almost 3 square kilometers, of which more than three-quarters are lakes. 

I spent a full day hiking the garden, mostly around the lake. The walk is comfortable, even though there were the usual incessant crowds of tourists. But since the garden is so large and has many points of interests, they were nicely dispersed. The lake design modeled much after the famous 西湖Xihu (West Lake) of Hangzhou, but beyond the moon-bridges and dykes, nothing else is similiar. Compare to the leisurely and egalitarian mood of the West Lake, the atmosphere here was stiff and the scenery was hard.  Of course, Beijing is in the north, not far from the craggy mountains and the hard wind; and so the garden cannot escape being northern. Besides all these, there was also the lingering imperial coolness, and a sort of narrowness in its large scale. Everything seems to be too precisely placed. The beauty of the West Lake is in its openness and indifference to things within and without. Whenever I walked in the West Lake, I always sense its confidence; Yiheyuan, however, lacks vibrancy. But whatever it lacks, its abundance of details fills in. And it enjoys itself today as the largest and most well-preserved royal garden in China. 

Region: 北京Beijing

颐和园图片Yiheyuan (The Summer Palace) Pictures

  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor

    The Long Corridro arching up a building.

  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor

    The endless Long Corridro.

  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor
  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor
  • Picture of 颐和园 Yiheyuan - Rooftops
  • Picture of 颐和园 Yiheyuan
  • Picture of 颐和园 Yiheyuan - Rooftops
  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor
  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor
  • Picture of 颐和园-长廊 Yiheyuan - Long Corridor
  • Picture of 颐和园 Yiheyuan
  • Picture of 颐和园 - 昆明湖 Yiheyuan - Kumming Lake

    The frozen Kunming Lake at winter.

  • Picture of 十七孔桥 Seventeen-arch Bridge

    This great stone bridge was built in the fourteenth year of 乾隆Qianlong's reign(1750). It measures 150 meters in length and its height is determined by 17 arches rising incrementally from both ends;where the nineth is the highest,symbolizing the emperor. Lined on both sides of the bridge's stone balustrades are 544 stone lions,each are different.

  • Picture of 亭子 Large Pavillion

    The largest pavillion in the garden

  • Picture of 十七孔桥 Seventeen-arch Bridge

    This large stone bridge was built in the fourteenth year of 乾隆Qianlong's reign(1750). It measures 150 meters in length and its height is determined by 17 arches rising incrementally from both ends;where the nineth is the highest,symbolizing the emperor. Lined on both sides of the bridge's stone balustrades are 544 stone lions,each are different.

  • Picture of 十七孔桥,石狮子 Seventeen-arch Bridge,stone lions

    The stone lions atop this great bridge.

  • Picture of 铜牛 Bronze Bull

    The Bronze Bull is also called the "金牛Gold Bull" because it was coated with gold. But don't rush here to scrape some because the British and French troops in 1860 and the Allied troops in 1900 had already skinned it bare. The resting bull was casted in 1755.

  • Picture of 颐和园 - 佛像 Yiheyuan - Seated Buddha

    A seated laughing Buddha.

  • Picture of 颐和园 - 佛像 Yiheyuan - Buddhist statues

    Two interlocking Buddhist figures.

  • Picture of 颐和园 Yiheyuan
  • Picture of 文昌阁 Wenchang Pavillion

    The very large pavillion with a high stone base,which makes it more like a tower. It has a grand view of the lake.

  • Picture of 亭子 Pavillion

    A pavillion on a islet.

  • Picture of 昆明湖景 A view Kunming Lake

    Tourist boats on the Kunming Lake with 万寿山Longevity Hill in the background

  • Picture of 亭子 Pavillion

    A pavillion on an islet with a grand view of the Kunming Lake

  • Picture of 昆明湖和万寿山景 Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill scene

    View of Kunming Lake with Lovgevity Hill in the background

  • Picture of 昆明湖和十七孔桥景 Kunming Lake and 17-arch bridge

    View of the Kunming Lake and the 17-arch Bridge

  • Picture of 园林一角 Section view of the garden

    A section of the GArden at sundown

  • Picture of 石舫,清宴舫 Marble Boat

    Beijing's western hills and the Kunming Lake had been a favorite summer resort since the 金代Jin Dnasty(12th century). In the Qing Dynasty, the emperor 乾隆Qianlong(1736-95) made large scale construction and expansion to what is then the GArden of Pure Ripples. But in 1860, the French and British allies destroyed much of it. The garden was rebuilt later by Prince Chun, who used the money allocated for building an effective navy against the occupation forces,with the intention to allied himself to the then all-powerfull and notorious Empress Dowager 慈禧Cixi. After completion, the garden was renamed Yiheyuan(means to nurture and harmonize),which the western allies called "The Summer Palace". The ill-fated garden did not last long, for in 1900 it was destroyed again by the Eight Allied Armies. Again, money for the military went to the rebuilding of the garden, which was finished two years later in 1903. Among the many pieces resulted from funds allocated to build a strong navy, this useless boat sums it up. It was finished in 1755; the piece is 36 meters in length and built entirely of marble, with stained glass covering its arched windows,Persian style.

  • Picture of 昆明湖景 View of the Kunming Lake

    A view of the Kunming Lake with the Marble Boat in the foreground

  • Picture of 园林一路 Garden Path

    One of the many paths of the garden complex

  • Picture of 长廊 Long Corridor

    The Long Corridor along the Kunming Lake

  • Picture of 金树 Golden Tree

    A tree lit by the golden sun-setting light.

  • Picture of 石桥 Stone Arch Bridge

    One of the six large stone bridges that span the Kunming Lake

  • Picture of 石梯级 Stone steps

    The stone steps of an arched stone bridge

  • Picture of 门前 Entrance

    Entrance with a Unicorn

  • Picture of 仁寿殿前 Temple Front

    A group of soldiers and tourists admiring the huge rock sculpture before the Renshoudian Temple.

  • Picture of 一家散步 A Family Outing

    Walking on the sidewalk between the Kunming Lake and The Long Corridor.

  • Picture of 昆明湖一角 A corner of the lake

    A section of the walkway on the northern part of the Kumming Lake

  • Picture of 昆明湖景 View of the Kunming Lake

    small view of the very large,2 square kilometers Kunming Lake

  • Picture of 昆明湖一景 A view of the Kunming Lake

    Sublime view of the Kunming Lake with dried lotuses in the foreground

  • Picture of 昆明湖边一角 A view of the Kunming Lake

    A view of the Kunming Lake at noon

  • Picture of 宝石 Rock sculpture

    One of the many rock sculptures along the Long Corridor

  • Picture of 仁寿门 Eastern entrance Gate

    An decorated entrance gate to the garden

  • Picture of 门墙 Entrance doorway

    Entrance wall with carving of dragon

  • Picture of 仁寿殿前 Temple front

    The Renshoudian Temple was built during Emperor 乾隆Qianlong's reign(1736-95) and was named 勤政殿Qinzhengdian Temple. It was renamed later to 仁寿殿Renshoudian Temple after major renovations in 1890,so named in hope that the Empress Dowager 慈禧Cixi may live a long life. The Dowager and the emperor often held court here.

  • Picture of 楼顶 Rooftop

    A distinctive Chinese archectural element;the rib of a rooftop.

  • Picture of 宝石 Priceless Rock

    This rock is transported here in pieces

  • Picture of 大石小孩子 Rock and Child

    Family members taking a picture of a little girl posing with a lsrge rock sculpure

  • Picture of 昆明湖景 A view of the Kunming Lake

    An evening view of the Kumming Lake

  • Picture of 桥亭 Pavillion atop a bridge

    A pavillion atop one of the stone arch bridges along the Western and Eastern Dykes surrounding most of the Kunming Lake

  • Picture of 夜景 Night scene

    A night scene with one of the several islands in the on the lake.

  • Picture of 墙 Garden wall

    One of the shaped windows on a wall made available to admire a framed view of totally different landscape.

  • Picture of 围墙 Garden Wall

    Section of the Garden with part of a wall. Walls are a key element of a garden. A well-designed and well-placed wall provides the guests not only a soothing visual massage, but also invites them to participate in the creative process of garden design. By going through the mazes, one "draws" the garden.

  • Picture of 石桥 Stone arch bridge

    One of the smaller stone arch bridges within the garden

  • Picture of 亭内 Pavillion Interior

    The large pavillon before The Long Corridor

  • Picture of 游客 Tourists

    Tourists moving westward

  • Picture of 桥边 Bridge details

    A view by the side of a stone bridge

  • Picture of 园林一景 A section of the garden

    The path leading to the Western Dyke

  • Picture of 城楼 Tower

    A tower with an arched opening

  • Picture of 苏州街 Suzhou Street

    This is Suzhou Street,so called because it modelled after the canal and street combination of the fabled Suzhou City. The canal snakes along the northern circumference of the garden. Along both sides of the canal are Qing-styled,two-storied buildings used as gift shops and teahouses. Within are large variety of crafts and fashion items with vendors dressed in Qing-styled clothing idling or strolling along the banks outside.

  • Picture of 苏州街 Suzhou Street

    This is Suzhou Street,so called because it modelled after the canal and street combination of the fabled Suzhou City. The canal snakes along the northern circumference of the garden. Along both sides of the canal are Qing-styled,two-storied buildings used as gift shops and teahouses. Within are large variety of crafts and fashion items with vendors dressed in Qing-styled clothing idling or strolling along the banks outside.

  • Picture of 牌搂 Arch

    The ceremonial arch before the Eastern Gate of The Summer Palace

Travelogues and travel notes.

image of Tulufan's Emin MinaretPortriat of a Uygur girl in 二堡乡 Erbaoxiang

See 吐鲁番Tulufan's well-known attractions -- 苏公塔Sugonta (Emin Minaret), 高昌城Gaochang Ruins, and 火焰山Huoyan Shan (Flaming Mountains).

image of Pingyao streetimage of the main gate tower to the Chang family's compound and gardern

The compounds and manors of the extreme wealthy in 山西Shanxi's small towns and villages. See the old town of 平遥Pingyao with well-preserved Ming and Qing city wall and street layout.

trucks on the desert road

Pictures I took while on a bus traveling through the sandy deserts of 甘肃Gansu on my way to 嘉峪关Jiayuguan.

image of an old man looking toward Shanghai\'s 浦东 Pudong skylineShanghai\'s 浦东 Pudong skyline

上海Shanghai: Today, the financial center of China as well as one of its cultural centers. Fashion lovers, misfits, intelectuals, dreamers, refugees, outcasts, and outlaws alike rush to Shanghai for its haven and riches. You come to Shanghai not for any historical attractions, but rather for the city itself -- its interactions of all things good and bad that generate hot gossips.

image of a group of Mongolian gersimage of dunes near Baotou city

Enjoy the wide 希拉穆仁草原Xilamuren grassland, the huge dunes of 响沙湾Xiangshawan, and the ancient Wall of the Qin state in 内蒙古Neimenggu (Inner Mongolia).

clay figure of 钟馗 Zhong Kui

Arts and Crafts that I bought along my travels.

My translations of some Chinese poems.

image of Wudangshan temple

The extraordinary temple complex in 湖北Hubei's legendary Daoist mountains - the source of much of China's famed 功夫Gongfu tradition.

image of people on a boat in the Three Gorges area of the Changjiang river area

See the 三峡Three Gorges of the 长江Changjiang (Yangzi River) between 重庆市Chongqing city and 宜昌Yichang.

image of Great Wallimage of Great Wall

The 万里长城Great Wall from the shining 渤海Bohai sea to the Gobi desert west — 山海关Shanhaiguan (Shanhai Pass) to 嘉峪关Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass).

image of Tiananmen gateimage of the seventeen arch bridge in Yiheyuan

Walk through Beijing's great attractions -- 故宫Gugong (The Palace Museum), 天坛Tiantan (Temple of Heaven), 天坛天安门广场Tiananmen Square, 颐和园Yiheyuan (Summer Palace).