The Imperial Summer Resort was the largest imperial garden in the Qing Dynasty. It covers an area of 5.64 million square meters, is twice as big as the Summer Palace in Beijing. The imperial theme of "collecting the world scene in one garden, moving the best beauty to one place" is represented in the garden, which combines the grace of South China with the grandeur of North China.
The construction of Imperial Summer Resort was started in 1703; after 89 years, until the year 1792, its 124 groups of constructions had been finished, in which 72 scenic sites were named by the Emperor at that time. The whole construction area is about 100,000 square meters.
The Imperial Summer Resort can be divided into the palace zone, the lake zone, the mountain zone and the plain zone. In the south it is the palace zone consisting of former Palace, Pine & Crane House, East Palace and Million Valleys and Pines, four groups of structures. The palace zone has become the Royal Art Museum and the place for recovering historic legacy of the palace of the Qing Dynasty.
The lake zone has an area of about 500mu, divided into many small lakes by the islands and dykes such as Chenghu (Clear Lake), Ruyihu (Happy Lake), Yinhu (Silver Lake) and Jinghu (Mirror Lake). The plain zone is located on the north of the lake zone covering an area of 53 hectares, which mainly include Wanshuyuan (Ten Thousand Trees Garden), Shimali (Place of Trying Horses), Yongyou Temple (Permanent Blessing Temple) and Sheli Pagoda and other tourist sites.
In the Qing Dynasty the Emperors usually held the head meeting in Ten Thousand Trees Garden, had dinner with fireworks, lights, music and dancing and singing. The Big Army Tent and Mongolia Box were built when there were large-scale activities.
The mountain zone covers an area of 4.22 million square meters. The highest peak is 510 meters high above the sea level, and it is 180 meters higher than the plain zone. Emperor Kangxi and Qianlong had ordered to build more than 40 buildings, pavilions, temples, and houses that had small tourist imperial paths and narrow winding tracks towards the hills. The mountains are winding mountains with deep ditches, gullies and valleys in all directions, thick forest and Clear Mountain brooks, which form different landscapes in four seasons. Now you can get to the top of the hills by cableway and look from the mountain at the great wonders on four sides of the mountain; Cloud Sea, Twin Peaks Facing North and Snow on the South Mountain. The Gate of the Imperial Summer Resort is the gate of the formal palace zone with a plate with the inscription "Imperial Summer Resort" written by Emperor Kangxi himself. So the name "Imperial Summer Resort" appeared. The resort adeptly takes advantage of the terrain to construct the palace area and the Hill and Water Scenery Area. For over a hundred years from the reign of Kangxi to that of Xianfeng, the emperors spent nearly a half of their time living here, thus the Main Palace had become the second political center of the Qing Dynasty.
Chengde Summer Resort Map