Beijing - Yuanmingyuan

China in the 21st CenturyCreated by Ted Mitchell


Yuanmingyuan - Beijing
Yuanmingyuan Ruins

Yuanmingyuan Slideshow

Yuanmingyuan (Downloadable Pictures)

The Old Summer Palace which is also known as the Ruins of the Yuanmingyuan (the Garden of Perfection and Light) is located northwest of Beijing and to the east of the (present-day) Summer Palace. The Garden was first constructed in the year of 1709 during the reign of the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Over the next 150 years of the Qing Dynasty, this Garden was expanded to be a large-scale Chinese emperors' private pleasure garden, covering a total area of 350 hectares (over 864 acres).
Generally speaking, the Old Summer Palace consists of three parts - Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan (the Garden of Blossoming Spring) and Changchunyuan (the Garden of Eternal Spring). These three gardens are often referred to as one common name: Yuanmingyuan. Hundreds of scenic spots in the Garden are made up of exquisitely constructed halls, pavilions, chambers, kiosks, earth and rock hills, rivers and ponds, and exotic flowers and grasses from different parts of the country. Indeed, it embodies the essence of Chinese ancient landscape gardening.
To be distinct from other traditional Chinese Gardens, the garden construction and horticulture of Yuanmingyuan is a harmonious blend of typical Chinese scenery and western architecture. The more famous scenic spots include, for example, the Grand Waterworks, the Throne for viewing the Waterworks and the Labyrinth. No wonder Yuanmingyuan was also called the 'garden of gardens' or the 'Versailles of the East' in Europe during that era. Furthermore, Yuanmingyuan was also an imperial museum that collected a large number of books, treasures and cultural artifacts. However, a large number of these collections were plundered by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, at the same time as the Garden was burnt down. Now, most of these historical curiosities are displayed in the other countries' museums, including the British Museum; Bibliotheque Nationale de France; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA; Oslo Museum of Applied Art and so on.
The vast majority of the remaining scenic spots were destroyed in the 1980's, but under the due protection of the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, a park has been established on the ruin site. So visitors can imagine the former grandeur of the Old Summer Palace from the crumbling walls and ruins. What's more, there is also an opportunity for visitors to view the complete picture of Yuanmingyuan in its 'heyday' in the exhibition hall. The reconstruction of some of the original structures and scenic spots provides people with a lovely place to relax.