Gem of China History - Yuan Ming Yuan

Yuan Ming Yuan, also known as the 'Old Summer Palace' and originally called the Imperial Gardens, was an extremely large complex of palaces and gardens 8 km (5 miles) northwest of the old city wall of Beijing, China. YuanMingYuan is very close to the Summer Palace.

The China Yuan Ming Yuan Park was know as ‘the Apotheosis of all Garden Art’ and ‘The Garden of Gardens’ with its grand geographical scale, excellent building techniques, fine groups of building landscape, rich culture collection and profound cultural connotation and reputation in the world. Its destruction can be said is the biggest regret in the history of China’s landscape architecture.

Formerly Yuan Ming Yuan was translated as ‘Old Summer Palace’, for it is the palace for the emperor living in summer days, which is very similar with the Summer Palace (Yihe Park) in China.

The Yuan Ming Yuan is composed by three main gardens, they are: the Garden of Perfect Brightness proper; the Garden of Eternal Spring; the Elegant Spring Garden.

TheYuan Ming Yuan inherited the outstanding tradition of garden building of three thousand years of China, it is both grand, elegant as court buildings and graceful as gardens in south of Yangtze River. At the same time, the Yuan Ming Yuan had absorbed the garden architecture style of Europe, combined different garden building styles into one, and create a perfect and harmonious overall layout.

And there is another garden in the Yuan Ming Yuan featured with style of foreign architectures, that named the European-style palace.

The Old Summer Palace is often associated with the European-style palaces built of stone. The designers of these structures were employed by Emperor Qianlong to satisfy his taste for exotic buildings and objects.

The Yuan Ming Yuan is not only famous for its gardens, but it is also a Royal Museum with very rich collections. French writer Victor Hugo once said: "Even if collected all treasures of all museums in French together, that can not match with this oriental grand and magnificent museum."

This great garden was destroyed during the second Opium War.

It took 3,500 British troops to set the entire place ablaze, taking three days to burn. The Palace was plundered and burned twice, . The first time was in 1860 by French and British army forces, and only 13 royal buildings survived to remain intact, most of them in the remote areas or by the lake side. The second time was in 1900 during the Eight-Nation Alliance invasion, and nothing remained this time.

Although the Yuan Ming Yuan has been destructed, but among the well-preserved gardens, we can still enjoyed the unique style of Chinese gardens: the combination of landscape, painting and poetry formed this unique poetic garden, which to provide a spiritual Utopia to the people living the garden.

Remark: The main several aesthetic elements of Chinese gardens include: asymmetrical;various types of spatial connections; trees, rocks and water; borrowed scenery; inscriptions; use of Feng Shui for choosing site.

* Original address of this China gift post: China Gift and Fine Arts & Crafts in China

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