Chengde Summer Palace, also called Hot River Palace is located in the north of Chengde city and is where emperors from China's ancient Qing dynasty spent their summers to escape the summer heat in Beijing.
The palace was built during early 18th century during the reign of Emperor Qianlong with an effort of more than 90 years to compete. It contains emperor's residential buildings, royal gardens and some magnificent temples.
The Mountain Resort is divided into four parts: the Palace Area, Lake Area, Plain Area and Mountain Area. The Palace Area lies in the south part of the Mountain Resort and is a concentration of palaces where the Qing emperors handled the political affairs and where the royal families lived. It covers an area of 100,000 sq meters (25 acres), consisting of four main complexes: the Main Palace, the Pine-Crane Hall, the East Palace and the Pine Soughing Valley. The Main Palace was the place where important ceremonies and events were observed but today it is used as the Mountain Resort Museum. The Pine-crane Hall was the residence built by Emperor Qianlong for his mother-the empress while the East Palace was damaged in a fire in 1945 with only the groundwork still visible today. The Pine Soughing Valley was the reading room of the emperors and the office where the emperors handled the political mandates.
The summer palace at Chengde, given that it functioned much like the Forbidden City - which was, as its name implies, off limits to ordinary Chinese people - was constructed such that most of its temples were deliberately placed outside the palace walls, thereby making the temples accessible to the public at large. The Eight Outer Temples are thus placed beyond the palace walls, each taking its architectural inspiration from an ethnic minority such as the Mongolian, Tibetan and Ugyur minorities.
Today, Chengde Imperial Mountain Resort is of course reconstructed to serve as a tourist site which at the same times serves as a window on the life and times of the Qing Dynasty emperors, whose power and opulence grew hand in hand with the growth in material wealth of the country (there are, for example, over 20,000 items from the imperial court on display here), which expanded considerably during this important period, and which would prove to be the final chapter in China's imperial era.
The Mountain Area, located in the northwest of the Mountain Resort, accounts for 80% of the total area. The mountain area is formed by four valleys: Filbert Valley, Pine Valley, Pear Valley and Pine-cloud Valley, which run south to north. The mountain peaks surrounding the area form a natural curtain which impedes the cold winds blowing in from Northwest China. Various pavilions, temples and other structures dot the mountain slopes and valleys.
Admission Fee: CNY 90 (Apr.16 - Oct.15)
CNY 60 (Oct.16 - Apr.15)
Bus Route: 5, 6, 10, 11, 15