The former summer palace of the Late Empire Dynasty of Yihe Yuan is located among the northwestern outskirts of the Chinese capital of Beijing. It is also known as ‘Gardens of Nurtured Harmony'.
However, a number of buildings have managed to survive the ravages of time. In 1860, the Opium Wars reached the summer palace of Yihe Yuan. Western colonial troupes devastated the Chinese Garden and destroyed numerous buildings. Reconstruction of the pavilion was due to the Emperor’s widow, Empress Dowager Cixi. After the death of her husband, Xianfeng, in 1861, the empress took control of the empire and subsequently ordered the restoration of the buildings that were destroyed during the Second Opium Wars.
The dominant ‘Longevity Hill’, known as Wanshou Shan, is crowned by a 41 metre high pavilion, The Temple of Buddhist Virtue that was built in 1750.
For many years, a cruise on Kunming Lake has not been reserved solely for the former family of the emperor, as it is now frequented by tourists from around the world. The widow’s favorite haunt was the Marble Boat from which she enjoyed the magnificent view across the lake. In spite of past military destruction, the natural beauty of the elegant gardens of the Yihe Yuan has been extremely well preserved.
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