The Summer Palace in northwest suburban Beijing is the largest and most complete imperial garden existing in China. It was first built in the 12th century as an imperial palace. Renovation and extension in the following several hundred years till the end of the 19th century led it into the scale we see today, and was officially named Summer Palace.
Occupying an area of 304 hectares, the Summer Palace features hilly and water scenery. The Kunming Lake makes up four-fifths of this royal park. The Long Corridor running east-west along the lake as well as the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, the Sea of Wisdom, and the Hall of Dispelling the Clouds and Suzhou Street standing south to north on the Longevity Hill are the major scenic spots. The Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, 41 meters high, is decorated with glazed tiles. Its walls were carved with 1,008 niches and images of Buddha. The Marble Boat at the western end of the Long Corridor is a noted structure on water. Built in 1755, the boat, having a length of 36 meters, was made completely out of marble. There is a mirror on each of its two decks to reflect lake water. Sitting before the mirror gives a feeling of sitting on the ripples of water.
The Summer Palace was added to the world cultural heritage list in 1998.
The Summer Palace Management Office of Beijing Municipal Bureau of Parks
(China.org.cn September 12, 2003)