A truly magnificent sight, the sprawling beauty of Summer Palace is a grandiose sight to be held. Yiheyuan, in Chinese, was used by emperors who left Forbidden City to spend their summers beside dazzling lakes and calm pavilions. Emperor Qianlong created the present-day Summer Palce in Beijing.
It is known for being the Empress Dowager Ci Xi’s main place for pleasure and delight. She ruled China with an iron fist during the fall of the Manchus and was hated by the people for siphoning money from the state budget to rebuilding and restoring the Summer Palace instead of using it to contruct a modern fleet. The opulent and ostentatious Marble Boat, which sits immobile on the northern part of the lake, is representative of her greed and disatrous imprudence.
From the main entrance you first encounter the Hall of Benevolence and Longetivity, where the Empress Dowager’s throne is located. In front of the hall are a fascinating array of bronze statues of dragons, lions, phoenixes, qilins and chimeras. The complex contains numerous courts and halls, including the Hall of Benevolence and Longetivy, and the Palace of Virtue and Harmony. The latter was a three-story theater where the Empress Dowager enjoyed and sometimes partook in plays and performances.
Along the northshore of the lake lies the Long Corridor, a delighful and charming walkway which connects the Marble Boat to the palace grounds. The winding corridor was commissioned by the Emperor Qianlong in 1750 and rebuilt by the Empress Dowager in 1888 after the Brith and French burned it down in 1860. Every part of the walkway-from the columns to the ceilings-are covered in paintings of Chinese myth, geography, and zoology. It runs 700m (about half a mile) long and is one of the highlights of visiting the Summer Palace.