Tuesday, July 23rd 2019

Exploring the Summer Palace in Beijing

After seeing the herds of tourists leaving the Forbidden city the previous evening we have decided to choose the Summer Palace as our first sightseeing visit. It is located within the boundaries of Beijing and pretty easily accessed by metro. Metro is actually quite modern and fresh. Of course, it was built for the Olympics.

The palace is on the UNESCO heritage list and has a hill and a lake. Here i saw for the first time that the main sights in China are heavily visited by Chinese tourists, especially by groups of poorly looking people wearing same hats/caps (so that the shepherd would not lose them). Actually there is a list of sights every TRUE Chinese has to visit during one’s lifetime. The Summer Palace, The Forbidden City, The Great Wall are all on the list. So we were surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of them. I expected to see a lot of non-Asian tourists, but actually here there were not so many of them.

Temple of Buddhist Virtue Summer Palace

Temple of Buddhist Virtue

Entrance fee is 20RNB/yuan for a simple ticket, but then you have to pay extra to enter various parts of the Palace. Upon the entrance you can visit famous Suzhou market streets whcih were built to resemble old shop streets in the town of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. To visit these streets you will need to pay extra 10 RNB. Actually it is the same in many  places. You enter a park, for example, and pay say 15 RNB. And there is a temple in the park, so to visit it, you pay extra 10RNB. Good system ;-) to earn money as all Chinese people pay for everything and visit every garden, temple and palace.

Suzhou market street in the Summer palace
Suzhou market street in the Summer Palace

 The construction was ordered by one of the empresses and later the area served as an entertainment place where emperors and concubines could feel as if they were strolling on real shop streets of Suzhou. When the royals went there, servants and maids acted as peddlers, customers and shop assistants to mimic market activities.

Suzhou market street in the Summer palace
Suzhou market street in the Summer Palace

 The palace is one of the main architectural landmarks of China. The territory is quite big so you can spend a whole day there. Despite being heavily visited there are a lot of places where you can have some quiet time. But in most places you will be surrounded by people posing and taking pictures.

Just gates in the Summer Palace

Just gates in the Summer Palace

The first area we visited was The Gardens of Harmoneous Pleasures. The name intrigued me….. I wonder what emperors and other nobility used to do here. When we entered a wonderful view over a lotus pond opened in fron of us.  The pond was full of half dried lotuses and a lot of red fish.

The lake in the Xiequ Yuan Garden of Harmonious Pleasures

The lotus pond in the Xiequ Yuan Garden of Harmonious Pleasures

Here comes the red fish ;-)

Fish in the pond of Xiequ Yuan (Garden of Harmonious Pleasures)

Fish in the pond of Xiequ Yuan (Garden of Harmonious Pleasures)

With the pond in the centre, the garden is built of various pavilions, halls, numerous corridors and bridges all of them arranged with some special meaning we probably will not be able to comprehend today.

Xiequ Yuan, Garden of Harmonious Pleasures
Xiequ Yuan, Garden of Harmonious Pleasures
People posing in Xiequ Yuan (Garden of Harmonious Pleasures)

People posing in Xiequ Yuan (Garden of Harmonious Pleasures)

People in China love to get married and when they are getting married they love invite photographers and cameramen to depict this memorable moment and their love to each other. Every more or less beautiful place like a palace or a park is full of couples posing (lost in their happiness).
Wedding picture in the Garden of Harmonious Pleasures
Wedding picture in the Garden of Harmonious Pleasures

 Romance

Romance

Romance

After leaving the Garden of Harmonious Pleasures we wend to the Kunming lake passing some nice building and figures.

 

 

Bronze dragon in the summer palace

Bronze dragon in the summer palace

At the shore we had a nice view over the lake full of boats aof various sizes moving happy toursits from one side of the lake to the other.

Kunmning lake in the Summer palace

Kunmning lake in the Summer palace

Right across we could see the palace which cwowned magnificently the hill.

Temple of Buddhist Virtue SUmmer Palace

Temple of Buddhist Virtue in the Summer Palace

The easiest way was to reach the palace was over lake by boat. And we chose a beautiful dragon boat. Extra 10RNB/person – tching! Chinese people are famous to be communists but it seems they know very well how to earn money.
Dragon boat on Kunming lake, the Summer Palace

Dragon boat on Kunming lake, the Summer Palace

You have a nice view of the palace from the center of the lake while approaching the other shore.

Approaching the Temple of Buddhist Virtue

Approaching the Temple of Buddhist Virtue

On approach we saw a marble boat standing at the shore. The boat was built in 1755 to imitate sailing boats of Emperor Qianlong.

The marble boat on the Kunming lake

The marble boat on the Kunming lake

The Temple of Buddhist Virtue

The Temple of Buddhist Virtue

 

Now – up to the top of the Longevity hill. But which way????

Which way?

Which way? – Anyway!

I liked the nicely styled tepephone booth which was just in the middle of woods. Convenient place for some secret talk or a romantic chat ;-)

 

Ancient bronze lion at the Summer Palace

Ancient bronze lion at the Summer Palace

The Sea of Wisdom(what a name) Temple is located not far from the main Tower of Buddhist Incense. This is a holy building, and its name comes from the sutra, symbolizing the mighty force and the infinite wisdom of Tathagata Buddha.

The Sea of Wisdom Temple covered with 1,110 glazed terracotta Buddhas
The Sea of Wisdom Temple covered with 1,110 glazed terracotta Buddhas

  Its outer walls are decorated by numerous Buddhas. And inside it is a very peaceful place.

Terracotta Buddhas of The Sea of Wisdom Temple
Terracotta Buddhas of The Sea of Wisdom Temple

 

Roof decorations

A nice view opens from the top of the hill over the Kunming lake where we spent 30mins just enjoying the sunset.

View from Longevity hill over Kunming lake

View from Longevity hill over Kunming lake

Tower of Incense for The Buddha

Tower of Incense for The Buddha

As the symbolic structure in the Summer Palace, the Tower of Buddhist Incense was built on the mountain side during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. It is a classic work of Chinese architecture. It was a religious structure originally planned to be a nine-story tower, but ordered to be dismantled and change to a Buddhist tower for worshipping Buddha when the eighth storey was under construction. Like many buildings in the Summer Palace, this largest individual structure in the park was destroyed and rebuilt later during the reign of Emperor Guangxu.

To visit the tower it is yet another 10RNB – tching!

Tower of Incense & Sea of Wisdom Temple in the Summer palace

Tower of Incense & Sea of Wisdom Temple in the Summer palace

This was a great day trip and as I have not been to the Forbidden City as we decided to skip on that, I would recommend definitely recommend the Summer Palace to people who don’t like too crowded places as a more relaxed option.

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One Comment on “Exploring the Summer Palace in Beijing”

  1. Great post! Visiting Beijing this Autumn.For sure going to the summer palace.

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