The Summer Palace

by Jessica Marsden on June 26, 2009

Beijing’s terrible summer weather is not a recent development. Just a few decades into the Qing dynasty, the emperors decided they needed a summer alternative to the Forbidden City. For their Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), they chose a site approximately 10 miles northwest of the city center. A 2.2 square-kilometer man-made lake was excavated to provide the proper scenery. The buildings of the summer palace were damaged during attacks by Westerners in 1860 and 1900, and Empress Cixi’s effort to rebuild the palace was one of the final gasps of the Qing dynasty. She famously embezzled 30 million taels of silver from the Chinese navy to complete the task.

Now, a trip to the Summer Palace is a pleasant escape from the crowded capital. A comment on air quality: These pictures were taken during my second week in Beijing last summer. It was the first “blue sky day” we witnessed. I’m writing this post in Norway, and it’s hard to believe that this qualified.

The Summer Palace can be reached by public bus. Alternatively, you can take a canal ride to the palace from either behind the Beijing Exhibition Hall or the Yuyuantan Park.

This is the fourth in a series of weekly slideshows spotlighting places I’ve been on my travels, in China and beyond. You can also view this album, along with more photos, at To China and Beyond’s Picasa page.

Related posts:

  1. Snapshot: The Old Summer Palace
  2. How to explain a year in China
  3. Marco Polo Bridge: Little-Known, But Not a Gem
  4. The Oslo-Bergen Railway
  5. Trans-Mongolian Diary: Introduction

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