The Summer Palace lies more than 10 Km on the 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 (1115-1234 A.D) Wan Yanliang built a temporary palace here called the "Garden of Golden Waters" as his summer resort.
In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D), the palace was changed into and imperial garden.
In 1702, the Qing Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722 A.D) enlarged the garden into a temparary Palace.
In 1750, the Qing Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795 A.D) reconstructed it and called it the Garden of Clear Ripples.
In 1860, the Allied Anglo-French Force captured Beijing and burned the Palace.
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 (1875-1908) handwriting.
Ever since then, the Empress Dowager Ci'xi started to spend every summer here and had it restored after it was damaged again in 1900.
The main features of the Summer Palace are Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, it has an area of 290 hectares, approximately the size of seven Tian anmen Square, it also boasts more than 3,000 bays of various buildings in different palace and garden architectual styles. Kunming Lake consists of three forths of the whole garden.
Like most imperial palaces in China, the Summer Palace is divided into three parts: halls for political affairs, living quarters and religious buildings.
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