The Wonders Of Beijing Summer Palace

The Summer Palace (Yiheyuan), in northwest Beijing, is said to be the best-preserved imperial garden in the world, and the largest of its kind still in existence in China. It is only a short drive of 15 km (10 miles) from central Beijing, but it seems like another world.

Most people find they need to spend at least half a day there, as there’s so much to see and enjoy.

Close to the Summer Palace, 3 kilometers (2 miles) southwest of it, there is another imperial garden called the Old Summer Palace. They are two different gardens.

The Long Corridor

The paths beside the lake lead you under shady trees, or along the roofed colonnade known as the Long Corridor, with its magnificently painted ceilings. Bridges, boats, willows, lotus flowers, and other attractive landscaping make this a pleasant place to soak up the atmosphere and lovely views.

Facing Kunming Lake, it’s 728 meters (2,388 feet) long. In 1992, it was recognized as the longest corridor in the world and listed in “The Book of Guinness World Records”.

Summer Palace Facts

  • Chinese: 颐和园 Yíhé Yuán /ee-her ywen/ ‘Nourishing Peace Garden’
  • Area: 2.9 square kilometers (1.1 sq mi)
  • Age: 257 years (in 2021, completed 1764)
  • Popular activities: boating on Kunming Lake, walking the Long Corridor, watching a traditional Chinese performance in the ancient theater
  • Suited to: anyone
  • Time needed: half a day

The ‘Imperial Garden Museum’

The Summer Palace is known as the ‘Imperial Garden Museum’ in China as its purpose now is the preservation of national heritage material. It harmonizes plants and paths, water and land, architecture, and horticulture, epitomizing the philosophy and practice of Chinese garden design.

The Summer Palace played a key role in the development of this Oriental cultural form and perhaps represents its pinnacle.

Hall of Dispelling Clouds

This was the Summer Palace’s main place for Empress Dowager Cixi to receive guests, host grand ceremonies, and celebrate her birthday. Like the Tower of Buddhist Incense, it is located on the central axis of the ‘front hill’ area.

Suzhou Street

Suzhou Market Street recreates a selection of traditional riverside shops (as would have been found in Suzhou), many of which can only be reached by boat. The story goes that former Emperors, or their concubines, used to enjoy ‘pretend shopping’, as normally everything was bought for them.


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