Yuan Ming Yuan (Old Summer Palace) Tours – Beijing, China
Yuan Ming Yuan (Old Summer Palace)
About this place
Yuan Ming Yuan (otherwise known as the Old Summer Palace) is situated between Qinghua University and the Yi He Yuan (New Summer Palace). It was constructed between 1709 and 1859, although there had been imperial gardens and summer palaces in the area since at least the Liao dynasty (~1125AD). In 1709 the Qing dynasty Emperor Kangxi started the development of the Yuan Ming Yuan, and also gave it its name, which means Garden of Perfect Brightness.
In its heyday Yuan Ming Yuan was a treasure house of Chinese art and literature. The interiors were packed with antiques, jade articles, paintings, books, jewelry, famous porcelain and handcrafts of all kinds. The library held a copy of Four Complete Volumes of Chinese Classics which had 79,003 volumes and 853,453 pages, making it the largest book in world history. The largest lake, the “Sea of Fortune”, had an area of 28 hectares and was surrounded by more than 60 scenic places. Unfortunately it was looted and burned by Anglo French forces in 1860 on the orders of the eighth Lord Elgin (son of Elgin of the marbles).
There have been several plans to rebuild Yuanmingyuan, but the task would be impossibly expensive. What remains now is a vast, sprawling and almost empty park, with none of the scenic spots and brightly painted buildings which attract crowds of tourists to the New Summer Palace. It has, however, for those who can feel it, an eerie sense of history and is a convenient and easily accessible open space for residents of the university district to go for a quiet stroll. Some kind of further development will probably occur on the site, and in recent years more than 200 looted artifacts have been returned by the local population in response to a government appeal. In 2003 a group of animal heads from the fountain was sold at auction in New York for over 3 million US dollars to a company in Beijing who were eager to repatriate the pieces.
Admission is 10 Yuan, but between the 1st and the 5th of every month you can buy a monthly season ticket for only 15 Yuan (you need a passport photo for the first one)
The official website of the Old Summer Palace (Chinese only)
Transportation: Take Bus No.331, 333, 810, 814 or Special Bus No.6 and get off at Yuan Ming Yuan
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But there is one thing i have to admit it was a miracle land to me.