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Summer Palace

Located in the western suburbs of the city, the Summer Palace offers you a chance to get away from the bustling scene of the city.

Summer PalaceIn the near suburbs of Beijing, the Summer Palace is not to be missed, above all if you are looking for shade and fresh air. This vast park, covering 300 hectares and consisting of lake and gardens, was developed in the northwest of Beijing by Emperor Yongzheng to allow him to leave the over-hot atmosphere of the Forbidden City on summer days. Its current scale is a reflection of the huge works carried out under the orders of Emperor Dowager Cixi at the end of the 19th century. Nevertheless, there are few original buildings. After it was set on fire by the Eight-power Allied Forces when they entered Beijing in 1900, it was necessary to restore the start of the 20th century and above all after 1949.

The east entrance to the palace is like a small labyrinth of palace buildings and interior of palace buildings and interior courtyards before arriving at Kunming Lake, which covers three quarters of the surface of the Summer Palace. At the heat of this maze, you'll find the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, where the emperor received ministers and dealt with state affairs. The courtyard is decorated with magnificent bronzes of mythical animals.

Summer PalaceJust to the north of the Palace is located the most relaxing spot: Garden of Harmonious Virtue. The vast Kunming Lake, which you can explore by boat or pedalo or even on foot by crossing the 17-Arch Bridge that links the island to the southern part of the lake, is dominated by Longevity Hill where the Tower of Buddhist Incense sits imposingly.

The northern shore of the lake is lined with the magnificent Long Corridor, 700 meters long and decorated with numerous scenes in Chinese history. On the west side, you can find the Marble Boat which the Empress Dowager Cixi had it built to host dinner parties in the lake’s cool air.

Crossing the bridge behind the boat, towards behind the boat, towards the small western island, you’ll find a small exhibition hall showing artists and calligrapher's works. From there climb the hill towards the Tower of Buddhist Incense and the Sea of Wisdom Temple, covered in glazed tiles and walls decorated with little Buddha. The view over the lake is magnificent. Going bank down towards the Jingfu Pavilion, to the east will get you back to the entrance.

If you go to Beijing in winter, give yourself a half day to visit the Summer Palace and anticipate warm clothing to go skating on Kunming Lake in the company of Beijingers.

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