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Summer Palace

The Summer Palace (Pinyin: Yíhé Yuán; 颐和园) is located in the northwest suburbs of Beijing. The garden was rebuilt and expanded from a garden built in the Ming Dynasty in the 15th reign year of the Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty (1750 A.D.). Being a summer resort where the emperors of the Qing dynasty enjoyed themselves and ruled China in summer, it was named the Summer Palace.

Occupying an area of 290 hectares, the Summer Palace is a large natural landscape garden built on the basis of the Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, resembling the scenery of the West Lake in Hangzhou, with its design and style drawn from South China's garden architecture. A 728-meter-long corridor (Changlang) is the longest and most famous corridor in China. It serves as a link between the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. Around 14,000 impressive paintings of historical figures, landscapes, birds and flowers adorn this corridor, making it into a fantastic gallery. Marble Boat at the west bank was built in 1755, in the hope that the governance of the Qing Dynasty would be impregnable under any circumstance. The spectacular Seventeen-Arch Bridge (Shiqikong Qiao) in 150 meters long connects the eastern bank and Nanhu Island. 564 stone lions with different expressions and gestures on the balusters are strikingly realistic. The Summer Palace is also the best preserved royal resort in China. It represents the ultimate achievement in traditional Chinese garden building.

Centered on the Tower of Buddhist Incense (Foxiangge), the Summer Palace consists of over 3,000 structures including pavilions, towers, bridges, and corridors. It can be divided into four parts: the court area, front-hill area, front-lake area, and rear-hill and back-lake area. Built on the basis of natural hills and water, it is full of natural beauty as well as the magnificence and splendor of a Chinese royal garden, while highly embodying the Chinese garden building philosophy of "man's work that looks like a natural creation".

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value."

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