The Old Summer Palace in Beijing, known as the Yuanmingyuan or the Garden of Perfection and Light is a well-known cultural site and tourist attraction in the Chinese capital. Today, only the ruins of the imperial palaces and pavilions may be seen, but the site remains a tranquil location ideal for spending leisure hours.
Initially, the location was developed in 1709 during the time of rule of Emperor Kangxi, a Qing Dynasty ruler. In the course of the subsequent 150 years, the site was developed as a secluded pleasure garden of the Chinese emperors, extending over an area of no less than 350 hectares. The garden may be seen to consist of three distinct sections, namely Yuanmingyuan, Changchunyuan (or the Garden of Eternal Spring) and Wanchunyuan (which translates as Garden of Blossoming Spring).
There are numerous picturesque and attractive locations within the gardens, which include rocky hillocks, ponds and streams as well as rare flowers and grasses obtained from different regions of China. The park is considered to exemplify the treasured art of ancient Chinese landscaping and gardening.
On the other hand, the proud creation that once stood here also demonstrated features which set it apart from other royal Chinese gardens. Notably, it also included Western style architecture amidst the typically Chinese setting, making it a harmonious blend of diverse elements. At the height of its glory, it was known as the ‘Versailles of the East’, a phrase which is suggestive of the garden’s splendour. Additionally, the Old Summer Palace also featured an extensive museum devoted to the imperial legacy, which included numerous cultural artefacts, valuables and books.
Today, the ruins which may be seen are suggestive of the former splendour of this imperial leisure garden. Visitors may also see a pictorial reconstruction of the site within the exhibition chamber. Some of the scenic locations have been repaired, making them delightful places to unwind and relax. Visiting the Old Summer Palace is always a memorable experience.
If you are planning a visit to the country and are considering greater China hotels to host your visit, an excellent selection would be the Millennium & Copthorne Hotels China. These fine hotels in China offer well-appointed accommodations and attentive service.
Jayani Senanayake is a writer who dabbles in travel and all things exotic. Under the pseudonym of Caliope Sage, she writes of the allures that must simply be discovered.