The Summer Palace is the former holiday home of the Qing Emperors and is located north west of the Forbidden City. The design of the Summer Palace follows the traditional principles of fengshui and its grounds are typical of Chinese garden style. The Summer Palace is primarily made up of two sections: Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake.
Longevity Hill stretches 60m in height and has many buildings positioned in sequence. The front of the hill which faces Kunming Lake is home to many splendid halls and pavilions, whilst at the back, there is a myriad of scenic beauty.
The second section of this beauty spot is Kunming Lake which is the more predominant section of the Summer Palace, covering over three quarters of the ground. The lake's layout was based on the Hangzhou West Lake which is one of the most serene and romantic lakes in China. Kunming Lake is host to the Seventeen Arch Bridge, named for its 17 distinctly shaped arches, and the Marble Boat, a pavilion carved from marble, designed into the shape of a boat which dates back to the 18th century.
One of the most noticeable features of the Summer Palace is the Long Corridor. This intricately decorated covered walkway is over 700m in length and is the longest traditional Chinese garden in existence.
The Summer Palace was first commissioned under the reign of the Qianlong Emperor in the mid-18th century as a present to his mother, the Empress Dowager Chongqing. During the 19th century, the Summer Palace received substantial damage from the British and French during the Opium Wars and was rebuilt under the supervision of the Empress Dowager Cixi in the late 19th century. It is said that Empress Dowager Cixi was so enamoured with the Summer Palace that she diverted funds away from the military in order to rebuild the grounds.
The Summer Palace blends perfectly Chinese garden style with ancient philosophy. The calm setting of the grounds make it an ideal place for contemplation and inspiration.
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