Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing

Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing

The Summer Palace in Beijing – first built in 1750, largely destroyed in the war of 1860 and restored on its original foundations in 1886 – is a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.

Palais d'Été, Jardin impérial de Beijing

Le palais d'Été de Beijing, créé en 1750, détruit en grande partie au cours de la guerre de 1860, puis restauré sur ses fondations d'origine en 1886, est un chef-d'œuvre de l'art des jardins paysagers chinois. Il intègre le paysage naturel des collines et des plans d'eau à des éléments de fabrication humaine tels que pavillons, salles, palais, temples et ponts, pour en faire un ensemble harmonieux et exceptionnel du point de vue esthétique.

قصر الصيف، حديقة بيجينغ الإمبراطوريّة

يُشكّل قصر الصيف في بيجينغ الذي تأسس عام 1750 ودُمّر الجزء الأكبر منه في خلال حرب العام 1860 وأُعيد ترميم ركائزه الأصليّة عام 1889 تحفةً فنيّةً لفنّ حدائق الصين الطبيعيّة. وهو يزاوج بين مناظر الهضاب ومواقع الماء وبين المباني التي صنعها البشر مثل السرادق والقاعات والقصور والمعابد والجسور فخرج بمجموعة متناسقة واستثنائيّة من الناحية الجماليّة.

source: UNESCO/ERI

北京皇家园林-颐和园

北京颐和园,始建于1750年,1860年在战火中严重损毁,1886年在原址上重新进行了修缮。其亭台、长廊、殿堂、庙宇和小桥等人工景观与自然山峦和开阔的湖面相互和谐地融为一体,具有极高的审美价值,堪称中国风景园林设计中的杰作。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Летний дворец и императорский парк в Пекине

Летний дворец в Пекине, впервые построенный в 1750 г., сильно разрушенный во время войны 1860 г. и восстановленный в 1886 г., – это шедевр садово-паркового искусства Китая. Естественный ландшафт холмов и открытых водоемов сочетается с искусственными объектами, такими как павильоны, залы, дворцы, храмы и мосты, что создает гармоничный ансамбль высочайшей эстетической ценности.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Palacio de verano y jardí­n imperial de Beijing

Construido en 1750, destruido en su mayor parte durante la guerra de 1860 y reconstruido sobre sus cimientos en 1886, el palacio de verano de Beijing es una obra maestra del arte paisají­stico chino. Los elementos creados por el hombre –pabellones, palacios, aposentos, templos y puentes– se han adaptado perfectamente al paisaje natural de colinas y estanques. Esa adaptación ha dado por resultado la creación de un conjunto monumental armonioso y extraordinario en el plano estético.

source: UNESCO/ERI

頤和園、北京の皇帝の庭園

source: NFUAJ

Zomerpaleis, een keizerlijke tuin in Beijing

Het zomerpaleis in Beijing – voor het eerst aangelegd in 1750, tijdens de oorlog in 1860 grotendeels vernietigd en weer herbouwd in 1886 – is een meesterwerk op het gebied van Chinese landschapsarchitectuur en tuinontwerp. Het zomerpaleis omvat een gebied van bijna 3 vierkante kilometer, waarvan het merendeel bestaat uit water. Het natuurlijke landschap van heuvels en open water is gevuld met allerlei uitbundig versierde en goed bewaarde paviljoenen, hallen, paleizen, tempels en bruggen. De keizerlijke tuin bestond uit drie gedeelten, elk met een aparte functie: politieke en administratieve activiteiten, woonverblijven en recreatie en toerisme. In 1924 werd het zomerpaleis een openbaar park.

Source: unesco.nl

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Summer Palace, an Imperial Garden in Beijing © OUR PLACE
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Summer Palace in Beijing integrates numerous traditional halls and pavilions into the Imperial Garden conceived by the Qing emperor Qianlong between 1750 and 1764 as the Garden of Clear Ripples. Using Kunming Lake, the former reservoir of the Yuan dynasty’s capital and Longevity Hill as the basic framework, the Summer Palace combined political and administrative, residential, spiritual, and recreational functions within a landscape of lakes and mountains, in accordance with the Chinese philosophy of balancing the works of man with nature. Destroyed during the Second Opium War of the 1850s, it was reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu for use by Empress Dowager Cixi and renamed the Summer Palace. Although damaged again during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 it was restored and has been a public park since 1924. The central feature of the Administrative area, the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity is approached through the monumental East Palace Gate. The connecting Residential area comprises three building complexes: the Halls of Happiness in Longevity, Jade Ripples and Yiyun, all built up against the Hill of Longevity, with fine views over the lake. These are linked by roofed corridors which connect to the Great Stage to the east and the Long Corridor to the West. In front of the Hall of Happiness in Longevity a wooden quay gave access by water for the Imperial family to their quarters.

The remaining 90% of the garden provides areas for enjoying views and spiritual contemplation and is embellished with garden buildings including the Tower of the Fragrance of Buddha, the Tower of the Revolving Archive, Wu Fang Pavilion, the Baoyun Bronze Pavilion, and the Hall that Dispels the Clouds. Kunming Lake contains three large islands, corresponding to the traditional Chinese symbolic mountain garden element, the southern of which is linked to the East Dike by the Seventeen Arch Bridge. An essential feature is the West Dike with six bridges in different styles along its length. Other important features include temples and monasteries in Han and Tibetan style located on the north side of the Hill of Longevity and the Garden of Harmonious Pleasure to the north-east.

As the culmination of several hundred years of Imperial garden design, the Summer Palace has had a major influence on subsequent oriental garden art and culture.

Criterion (i): The Summer Palace in Beijing is an outstanding expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in a harmonious whole.

Criterion (ii): The Summer Palace epitomizes the philosophy and practice of Chinese garden design, which played a key role in the development of this cultural form throughout the east.

Criterion (iii): The Imperial Chinese Garden, illustrated by the Summer Palace, is a potent symbol of one of the major world civilizations.

Integrity

Due to the highest level of protection that the Summer Palace has always received from the government, its original design, planning and landscape have been perfectly preserved. Furthermore, the Summer Palace has maintained a harmonious relationship with its setting. At present the government has undertaken active and strong measures to reinforce the protection of the setting of the Summer Palace to cope with the pressure resulting from urban development.

Authenticity

The conservation intervention and landscape maintenance within the property area have been carried out in line with historic archives, using traditional techniques and appropriate materials for maintaining and passing on the historic information. The preservation and maintenance of the property has fully ensured its authenticity.

Protection and management requirements

The Summer Palace is protected at the highest level by the 1982 Law of PRC on the Protection of Cultural Relics (amended 2007), which is elaborated in the Regulations on the Implementation of the Law of People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Cultural Relics. Certain provisions of the Law on Environmental Protection and City Planning are also applicable to the conservation of the Summer Palace. These laws bear legal efficacy at national level. The Summer Palace was included by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China in the first group of National Priority Protected Sites on March 4th, 1961.

At the municipal level, the Summer Palace was declared a Municipal Priority Protected Site by the Beijing Municipal Government on October 20th, 1957. The Regulations of Beijing Municipality for the Protection of Cultural Relics (1987) reinforces the municipal protection of key heritage sites. In 1987 the protection boundaries of the Summer Palace were specifically mentioned and instructed to be undertaken in the Notice of Beijing Municipal Government to the Municipal Bureau of Construction Planning and the Bureau of Cultural Relics on endorsing the Report concerning the Delimitation of Protection Zones and Construction Control Areas of the Second Group of 120 Cultural Relics under Protection. The Master Plan of Summer Palace on Protection and Management is under formulation and will be presented to the World Heritage Committee as soon as it is complete. Meanwhile, construction in the surrounding areas has also been put under restrictive control.

The Beijing Summer Palace Management Office has been responsible for heritage management of the Summer Palace since it was established in 1949. Now among it’s over 1500 staff, 70% are professionals. Under it there are 30 sections responsible for cultural heritage conservation, gardening, security, construction, and protection. Regulations and emergency plans have been stipulated. At present, the protection of the Summer Palace is operating well. Under the overall protective framework made by the central and local governments, the protection and management of the Summer Palace will be carried out in accordance with strict and periodic conservation plans and programs. The scientific management and protection is carried out based on the information gained from increasingly sophisticated monitoring.

Long Description

The imperial Chinese garden, illustrated by the Summer Palace, is a potent symbol of one of the major world civilizations. The Summer Palace epitomizes the philosophy and practice of Chinese garden design, which played a key role in the development of this cultural form throughout the east.

Between 1750 and 1764 the Qing Emperor Qianlong created the Garden of Clear Ripples (Summer Palace), extending the area of the lake and carrying out other improvements based on the hill and its landscape. During the Second Opium War (1856-60) the garden and its buildings were destroyed by the allied forces. Between 1886 and 1895 it was reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu and renamed the Summer Palace, for use by Empress Dowager Cixi. It was damaged in 1900 by the international expeditionary force during the suppression of the Boxer Rising and restored two years later. It became a public park in 1924.

The Summer Palace covers an area of 2.97 km2 , three-quarters of which is covered by water. The main framework is supplied by the Hill of Longevity and Kunming Lake, complemented by man-made features. It is designed on a grandiose scale, commensurate with its role as an imperial garden. It is divided into three areas, each with its particular function: political and administrative activities, residence, and recreation and sightseeing.

The political area is reach by means of the monumental East Palace Gate. The central feature is the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, an imposing structure with its own courtyard garden. This area connects directly with the residential area, which is made up of three complexes of buildings. The Hall of Happiness in Longevity was the palace of Cixi and the Hall of Jade Ripples that of Guangxu and his empress, whereas the Hall of Yiyun housed his concubines. These buildings are all built up against the Hill of Longevity, with fine views over the lake, and are connected to one another by means of roofed corridors. These communicate with the Great Stage to the east and the Long Corridor (728 m), with more than 10,000 paintings on its walls and ceilings, to the west. In front of the Hall of Happiness in Longevity there is a wooden quay giving access by water to their quarters for the imperial family. The remainder of the Summer Palace, some 90% of the total area, is given over to recreation and sightseeing. The steeper northern side of the Hill of Longevity is a tranquil area, through which a stream follows a winding course.

There are many halls and pavilions disposed within the overall frame provided by the lake and the low hills around them. The Tower of the Fragrance of Buddha forms the centre of the structures on the south side of the hill. It is octagonal in plan and its three storeys rise to a height of 41 m. It is supported on eight massive pillars of lignum vitae and roofed with a great variety of glazed tiles. East of the Tower is the Revolving Archive, a Buddhist structure with a pillar on which is carved an account of the creation of the garden. To the west are the Wu Fang Pavilion and the Baoyun Bronze Pavilion constructed entirely in bronze.

Between the Tower and the lake is the complex known as the Hall that Dispels the Clouds. Other pavilions and halls cluster around these main features. Kunming Lake has many of the features of the natural scenery of the region south of the Yangtze River. It contains three large islands.

The South Lake Island is linked to the East Dyke by the stately Seventeen Arch Bridge. The West Dike consciously follows the style of the famous Sudi Dyke built in the West Lake at Hangzhou during the Song dynasty in the 13th century; six bridges in different styles along its length lend variety to the view as seen up against the background of the West Hill, which is an essential feature of the overall design of the garden.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

During the reigns of the Qing Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong (1663-1795) several imperial gardens were created around Beijing, the last of them being the Summer Palace, based on the Hill of Longevity and Kunming Lake in the north-western suburbs of the city.

Kunming Lake (known earlier as Wengshan Pond and Xihu Lake) had been used as a source of water for irrigation and for supplying the city for some 3500 years. It was developed as a reservoir for Yuan Dadu, capital of the Yuan Dynasty, by Guo Shoujing, a famous scientist of the period, in 1291. Between 1750 and 1764 Emperor Qianlong created the Garden of Clear Ripples, extending the area of the lake and carrying out other improvements based on the hill and its landscape. It was to serve as the imperial garden for him and for his successors, Jiaqing, Daoguang, and Xianfeng.

During the Second Opium War (1856-60) the garden and its buildings were destroyed by the allied forces. Between 1886 and 1895 it was reconstructed by Emperor Guangxu and renamed the Summer Palace, for use by Empress Dowager Cixi. It was badly damaged in 1900 by the international expeditionary force during the suppression of the Boxer Rising, in which Cixi had played a significant role, and restored two years later.

The Summer Palace became a public park in 1924 and has continued as such to the present day.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation