Beijing, May 10: Summer Palace

The Summer Palace, on the outskirts of Beijing, became the retreat and cooling off spot for Emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

Summer Palace
Urn with flowers

Summer Palace detail

Long Corridor







The Long Corridor (left) stretches 2,388 feet and is decorated with over 14,000 paintings, but was closed for restoration at the time of our visit.


There was an unusual amount of such restoration work under way at many historic sites at the time of our tour, in preparation for the visitors expected during and after the Summer Olympic Games to be held in Beijing in 2008.

Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha

Dragon boat
Dragon boat

The 716 acre Summer Palace grounds include three lakes, of which Kunming Lake (here) is the largest. At top left, the Tower of the Fragrance of the Buddha overlooks the lake, but it was closed for restoration this day and could not be visited.


Boating has always been an important sport at the Summer Palace. The dragon boats, above, serve present-day transportation needs of visitors. The Dowager Empress Cixi (1835-1908) was criticised, though, for spending funds earmarked for moderinization of the Imperial Navy on construction of the Marble Boat, below. Actually only the "hull" is made of marble; the upper parts are made of wood that has been painted to look like marble.

Marble Boat