The Summer Palace is one of the largest and most famous royal residences existing in the world and, undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful. It stands today as an outstanding example of Chinese traditional art in garden building. Located just a short ride outside of Beijing the Summer Palace is a "must see" when you visit Beijing.

The Summer Palace was constructed in 1750 for use by the emperor's temptresses of the Qing Dynasty. The palace served as a summer villa, a garden for relaxation, and a summer palace where the emperor held court. The Summer Palace was destroyed when the British-French Allied Army burned it in 1860 and it was rebuilt in 1888.

Empress Dowager Ci Xi

Ci Xi was born Lan-Kuei, meaning Little Orchid, in 1835 during China's Middle Kingdom. At the time women in China were rarely educated, but Ci Xi educated herself and by age 16 she could read and write. The daughter of a minor Mandarin of the ruling class at an inferior level which did not give her access to the Imperial court. At 17, in 1852, she entered the Forbidden City as "Honorable Person Lan," concubine of the 5th rank. She was promoted to "Royal Concubine Yi" and after giving birth to a son, she became "Imperial Concubine."

The Emperor died in 1861 leaving his son, only 5 years old, as heir to his throne. Ci Xi, his mother, was elevated to "Holy Mother Empress Dowager" and as his guardian she became Regent. Soon after she staged a coup d'etat and seized political power. While she was somewhat educated she was ignorant of the world at large and resisted all attempts to modernize China. Her 50-year reign was founded on the principles of Confucian teachings. She was the effective ruler of China during the reign of two emperors, her son and her nephew, both boys who ascended the throne.

On the occassion of her 60th birthday in 1895 the Empress Dowager Ci Xi renovated the Summer Palace. To finance this massive undertaking she used funds slated for the Imperial Navy to the dismay of many. Empress Dowager Ci Xi died in 1909 at age 74. Aisin-Gioro-Pu Yi became emperor and served until 1911 when he abdicated after the forming of the Chinese Republic.

Our visit to the Summer Palace was wonderful. It was one of the better weather days during our entire stay in China. No, it wasn't sunny, but it was brighter than most days. Unfortunately there was a rather thick haze in the air which detracts from some of the distance shots that we took. It was an absolutely beautiful place to visit and we took many photographs. Enjoy them.
Pictures taken in the outer courtyard at the Summer Palace:

Beautiful Ming Lion Statue

Chinese line up for pictures

Children are easily bored
waiting for parents
Ornate statues filled the courtyard

Entrance gate to the courtyard

Anne enjoying the beautiful plantings

Our first view of the Summer Palace
Much of the palace's area is coverd by a lake
Continue to the next page for more pictures of the Summer Palace ...
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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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