The Summer Palace in Beijing

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The Summer Palace in Beijing

Views of the Summer Palace in BeijingAt last the sun seems to be shining and we arrived at the Summer Palace in temperatures of over 30C. We bought ice cold water from a seller outside the grounds (3 Yuan each) and made our way to the entrance.

The Summer Palace grounds are enormous with a large part of this taken up the lake in the middle. Our guide explained that the Palace itself, while having been there for hundreds of years was largely destroyed by fighting in the 19th century but was then rebuilt by the famous Emperor Dowager Cixi who effectively ruled through both her son and her nephew.

We didn’t have long at the Palace as it was our last day in Beijing. We spent about an hour and a half walking from the East Gate, looking at the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity with its prominent Phoenix statues (which represent the Empress and rather unusually are positioned more prominently than the Emperor’s dragons), through the courtyard outside the Hall of Happiness and Longevity with its bankruptcy stone and then down the Long Corridor.

The Long Corridor at the Summer Palace, Beijing, ChinaThe Long Corridor is about 700m long and runs alongside the lakeside tithe south allowing it to benefit from the water’s cool breeze and has a hill on the north side to protect it from the cold winter winds. The Corridor has a roof with many beams, each of which has a different painting (although I think we definitely saw more than one duplicate!)

I suspect the Long Corridor was a beautiful and peaceful place to walk on a hot summers day but unfortunately it is not quite so enjoyable when having to fight your way through a crowd of Chinese tourists who appear to have no spacial awareness and limited patience.

Finally we took a dragon shaped boat across the lake, taking in some of that cool breeze and rebelling in the stunning views of the main Longevity Hill, the Jade Belt Bridge and the West Causeway.

I could imagine whiling a day away, walking around the grounds and renting a pedal boat on the lake. When the weather is good like it was today the Summer Palace makes an excellent tourist destination.