It was first built at the beginning of the 12th century and first called Golden Hill Palace then renamed to the Garden of Clear Ripples.During Qing Emperor Qianlong’s reign ,the building of imperial gardens reached its culmination. The famous “Three Hills and Five Gardens” were built or enlarged .Emperor Qianlong , in order to celebrate his mother’s 60th birthday, ordered the rebuilding of the Garden of Clear Ripples. In 1860, the Anglo-French Allied Forces invaded Beijing and the “Three Hills and Five Gardens” were burnt down to ashes . In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi spent a fabulous sum of money having the Garden of Clear Ripples.and then renamed it the Summer Palace . after that , The Summer Palace became not only her summer resort and pleasure garden ,but also the secondary imperial palace for the administration .After the last Emperor Puyi was driven out of the Forbidden City , the Summer Palace was turned from an imperial garden into a public park .and opened to the public.
The Main Building in Summer Palace
The Hall of Bdenevolence and Longevity (Renshoudian) ： This Hall was a political area in the Summer Palace. Inside the Hall , people can see the emperor’s throne carved with a nine-dragons design,symbolizing the supreme power of the emperor. Hung above the emperor’s throne , is a big plaque with four Chinese characters meaning : He who shows benevolence in running the government can live a long life.
The Garden of Virtuous Harmony (Deheyuan) ：It is also called the Great Theater Building ,It consists of the theater itself which is a three-story structure ,a two-story makeup tower at the back, and the Hall of Pleasure Smile where Empress Cixi used to sit inside the hall to watch and enjoy theperformances.Today ,this area has seven exhibition rooms for tourists.
The Hall of Jade Ripple (Yulantang) : It was built along the bank of Kunming Lake,After the failure of Reform Movement ,Emperor Guangxu was put under house arrest for ten years by Empress Dowager Cixi.
The Hall of Happiness and Longevity (Leshoutang) ：It was Empress Dowager Cixi’s residence ,Inside the Hall ,there is a large ,long table for her meals, During each meal ,128 courses would be served ,the money spent on a single meal could be enough to feed 5000 peasants for one day. The chandeliers hanging up in the middle of the ceiling in the hall were presented by the Germans which probably are one of China’s earliest electric lights .
Long Corridor (Changlang) ：It is a long covered walkway and is 728 meters long with 273 sections. It does separate Longevity Hill from Kunming Lake , but it is also like a colorful ribbon linking the architecture and the natural landscape. There are totally over 14,000 paintings and pictures painted on the beams and crossbeams of the long Corridor. The paintings covered a wide range of subjects from birds , flowers, trees, mountains, rivers and human figures. In 1990 ,the Long Corridor was listed in the “Guinness World Records” as the longest painted corridor in the world .
Marble Boat (Shifang) ：Emperor Qianlong built this marble boat based on a saying “Water can carry a boat , and it also can capsize a boat ”. It can never be moved . symbolized that the Qing Dynasty would be as solid as rock and never be overturned.
Entrance ticket : RMB 20 from Nov. 1th to the next Mar. 31th
RMB 30 from Apr. 1th to Oct. 31th
Combination ticket : RMB 50 from Nov. 1th to the next Mar. 31th
RMB 60 from Apr. 1th to Oct. 31th
Opening Hours : 7:00 am to 17:00 pm from Nov. 1th to the next Mar. 31th
6:30 am to 18:00 pm from Apr. 1th to Oct.31th
Recommended Time for a Visit: 2 hours