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Yuanmingyuan, ruins of garden

2013-01-23 15:54     Web Editor: Wang YuXia comment

Yuanmingyuan(Garden of Perfection and Brightness), located at north-west Beijing, is called the Old Summer Palace by tourists to distinguish it from the nearby Summer Palace. As the most magnificent imperial garden in history, the great Yuanmingyuan spanned a three-hundred-fifty hectare area with a fairyland of hills, ponds, lakes, ancient trees and palaces filled with one and half centuries of imperial treasure collections.


Actually Yuanmingyuan mainly consisted of three separate parks. They were the Garden of Perfection and Brightness (Yuanmingyuan) to the west, the Garden of Ten Thousand Springs (Wanchunyuan) to the south and the Garden of Everlasting Spring (Changchunyuan) to the east, all centered around Fuhai (Sea of Fortune).

To be distinct from other traditional Chinese Gardens, the garden construction and horticulture of Yuanmingyuan was a harmonious blend of typical Chinese scenery and western architecture. The more famous scenic spots included, for example, the Grand Waterworks, the Throne for viewing the Waterworks and the Labyrinth. No wonder Yuanmingyuan was also called the "garden of gardens" or the "Versailles of the East" in Europe during that era.


Yuanmingyuan was already in use in the 12th century AD during the Liao Dynasty, but its major construction was only started in 1709 during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty. It was intended as a gift for the Emperor's fourth son, later Emperor Yongzheng, under whom, the imperial garden was greatly expanded.

Yuanmingyuan was plundered and razed to the ground by the barbaric Anglo-French invasion forces during the 1860 Opium War. Again, in 1900 the allied forces of the Eight Powers invaded Beijing and sacked the remaining buildings in Yuanmingyuan. Many priceless artifacts that were plundered made their ways to the museums and private collections in Europe.

Today's Yuanmingyuan  

Yuanmingyuan you can see today lies in total ruin, blasted into fragments. It stays as a lesson of destructive Western imperialism for the Chinese people. It is a melancholy place, with an aura of faded glory like the Roman Forum. Much weathered after more than a century, the surviving carved pillars, stone shrine and screen still look distinctive and impressive. Yuanmingyuan is a must-see for visitors.

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