On Saturday, July 7th, we went to the Summer Palace. It was a high-smog day (230 particles), so the sky is white, the colors are drab and the distance is foggy, but we go when we can go! The Royal Summer Palace is the largest and most well-preserved royal park in China. It is recognized as 'The Museum of Royal Gardens'.
The construction started in 1750 as a luxurious royal garden for royal families to rest and entertain. It later became the main residence of royal members in the end of the Qing Dynasty. However, like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French Allied Force and was destroyed by fire.
According to historical documents, with original name as 'Qingyi Garden' (Garden of Clear Ripples), the Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) was renamed after its first reconstruction in 1888. It was also recorded that Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it as a resort in which to spend the rest of her life. In 1900, the Summer Palace suffered another hit by the Eight-Power Allied Force and was repaired in the next two years. In 1924, it was open to the public. It ranked amongst the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1998.
The Summer Palace radiates fully the natural beauty and the grandeur of royal gardens. Composed mainly of Longevity Hill (Wanshou Shan) and Kunming Lake, it occupies an area of 300.59 hectares (742.8 acres). There are over 3,000 man-made ancient structures which count building space of more than 70,000 square meters, including pavilions, towers, bridges, corridors, etc. It can be divided into four parts: the Court Area, Front Hill Area, Rear Hill Area and Lake Area.