The Summer Palace lies about 20 km northwestern
outskirts of Beijing, it is up to now the best preserved and the
largest imperial gardens in China.
In 1153, the Emperor of the Jin Dynasty Wan Yanliang
built a temporary palace here called the "Garden of Golden
Waters" as his summer resort.
In 1888, the Empress Dowager Ci'xi decided to
spend the money originally earmarked for the Chinese Navy and rebuilt
the garden, she herself gave it its present name of Yi He Yuan (Garden
of Cultivated Harmony), and the Chinese inscription of the name
was written in Emperor Guangxu's handwriting.
Since then, the Empress Dowager Ci'xi started
to spend every summer here and had it restored after it was damaged
again in 1900. Hence the name, the Summer Palace.
The main features of the Summer Palace are Kunming
Lake and Longevity Hill. Like most imperial palaces in China, the
Summere Palace is divided into three parts: Halls for political
affairs, living quarters and religious buildings.
The most important structures of the Summer Palace
is: Painting Walkway, the longest walkway in the Chinese gardens
with altogether over 14,000 traditional Chinese paintings on the
beams and crossbeams. Marble Boat, which was built for the 50th
birthday celebration of Empress Dowager Ci'x, and where can enjoy
the hazy scene over the lake in rainy days.