The Summer Palace lies to the northwest of Beijing, about 25 km away from the center of the City. It has more than 3000 buildings, Covering an area of 290 hectares. What to do there? I have listed my favorite 10 places to see and things to do here.
For other travel tips, please visit my other post: Summer palace travel guide
The palaces near the east palace Gate 东门宫廷区
It is the main gate of the Summer Palace and this area was for political activities and the living chamber of the imperial family.
1. Bronze Kylin 麒麟
Kylin is an auspicious animal in ancient Chinese culture. It could Avoid evil spirits and detect the good from the evil. It has the head of a dragon, the antlers of a deer, the tail of a lion, and the hooves of an ox.
2. Heralding Spring Pavilion 知春亭
The name of the pavilion came from a poem by the great Song Dynasty writer Su Dongpo. “The duck in the water is the first to know that spring has come.”
3. The Dehe Garden show 德和园
The garden was specially built for empress Dowager Cixi to watch Beijing opera.
4. Hall of Happiness and longevity 乐寿堂
The Hall of Happiness and longevity was the residence of Empress Dowager Cixi.
The long corridor 长廊
1. Longest art gallery 长廊彩绘
The long corridor is the longest covered walkway and art gallery in the world. It is 728 meters long with 14000 paintings.
2. Marble boat at the east end 石舫
At the west end of the Long corridor is the Marble Boat.”Water can float the boat, but it can also tip it over.” Emperor Qianlong built this huge boat in order to make the allusion concrete which means people could support a good emperor, however, they could also overthrow the Dynasty. He wants to show that his rule of the Qing Dynasty was as firm as the Marble Boat.
Tower of Buddhist incense 佛香阁
1. Cloud-Dispelling hall 排云殿
It was where Empress Dowager Cixi accepted greetings from officials on the day of her birthday.
2. The Tower of Buddhist incense 佛香阁
It is the core of the Summer Palace complex. The tower is 36 meters high.
3. The Four Great Regions 四大部洲
It is on the northside of longevity hill. All the Buddhist buildings are rebuilt before Beijing Olympics.
The Marcopolo bridge (17 arches bridge) 17孔桥
1. Broad view Pavilion
The Broad view Pavilion is the biggest viewing Pavilion remaining in China today. (300 square meters)
2. Bronze Ox
The Ox was a symbol of flood control in ancient China.
3. The 17 arches bridge
It is 150 meters long and 8 meters wide. This bridge is an imitation of Lugouqiao (Marco Polo Bridge). There are 544 stone lions in different poses on the balustrades.
The bridges in the west dyke 西堤
The west dyke is an imitation of the west lake dyke in Hangzhou Zhejiang Province.
1. Lake boundary Bridge
2. State Song Bridge
3. Jade Belt Bridge
4. Mirror Bridge
5. White Silk Bridge
6. Willow Bridge
7. The building of Bright View
Garden of Harmonious Interest 谐趣园
When Emperor Qianlong went south on an inspection tour, he visited the Jichag Garden(Garden for Ease of Mind) in Huishan of Wuxi, Jiangsu province. He liked it so much, so he asked people to imitate it here in the Summer Palace.
Suzhou Street 苏州街
It was an imitation of a shopping street that flanked the river located south of the Yangtze River. The emperor and empress would arrive on a painted pleasure boat, or stroll on the street to listen to the people singing and chatting. Of course, the people were made up by the eunuchs and maids.
Boating in the Kunming lake 西湖游船
Except in the wintertime, you can take the ferry boat on the Kunming lake to enjoy the view of the summer Palace. You can also rent a small e-boat rowing on the lake.