It is Beijing's largest and the best preserved Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) princely mansion and is located at Qianhai Xijie to the north of Shichahai. This fine example of ancient Chinese architecture with its cultural connotations is important not only for its aesthetic value but as an asset to those who wish to study the lifestyle of the privileged classes in the feudal society of a bygone era; it also has an interesting history.
The mansion was constructed around the year 1777 and was originally the private residence of Heshen. A member of the imperial guard, the handsome and intelligent twenty-five year old Heshen came to the attention of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (1736-1796). Before long Heshen was promoted to positions normally occupied by the most experienced officials, including those controlling finance and the appointment of civil servants; thus enabling him to acquire great wealth. The aging Qinglong did nothing to curb Heshen's corruption but his successor, Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820), had Heshen executed and his property, which was assessed at over 800 million ounces of silver, was confiscated. The mansion was passed to Prince Qing in 1799. Eventually Emperor Xianfeng (1851-1862) transferred the ownership to Prince Gong and it is his name that was to become that of the mansion.
The living quarters stand within three sets of courtyards occupying a central, eastern and western situation. The main, central section comprises the major hall, a rear hall and an extended pavilion that has some 40 rooms. The construction and materials used are similar to those of the Ningshougong (Palace of Tranquil Longevity) in the Forbidden City. Each of the western and eastern sections contains three smaller courtyards. These grand and exquisite buildings are a poignant reminder of the pageantry and splendor that was so much part of China's imperial past.
The garden, surrounded by artificial mountains, is known as Jincui Yuan, and is of high standing on account of its layout and distinct design. It covers an area of 28,000 square meters (6.9 acres) and includes twenty scenic spots, each widely different from the others. The entrance via a cavern brings you into a spacious yard. A high but graceful rockery at the center point greets you. There are mountain peaks, ponds, caves, studies and pavilions distributed throughout the garden. The 'Western-Style Gate,' the 'Grand Theater House' and the 'fu' Stele to be found in the garden are referred to as the 'Three Uniqueness in the Prince Gong's Mansion'.
Arriving in the center of the garden, you will be absorbed by the artificial hills. The stele was placed in a cave. The Chinese character 'fu' carved on the about 8-meter-long stele is a copy of the Emperor Kangxi's (1622-1723) handwriting.
Besides, there are other absorbing sightseeing spots such as Liubei Kiosk, Anshan Hall, Dule Peak, and Yaoyue Platform, etc.
It is a place really worthy of a visit and you can be assured that every aspect puts the culture and life style of the Imperial China's elite into perspective.
Note: It is reported that it will be open to the public as an all-round museum designed to exhibit the royal mansion life in the Qing Dynasty.
|Fees:||CNY 40 for entrance charge; CNY 70 including entrance charge, fare for a local guide, listening to the opera and tasting the snack. |
Free for children below 1.2 meters.
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Ticket sales time:
|Recommended Time for a Visit:||2 hours|
|Bus Route:||Take Subway Line 4 to Ping'anli then walk 1.2km eastwards from Exit C along Dianmen Xi Dajie to find Lianhua Market on the north side of the road. The mansion is in depth of hutongs behind Hehua Market. |
Take bus 612, 90, 701, 118, 204, 623, 42, 107, 13, 111, 609 and get off at Beihai Bei Men (Beihai North Gate) Station and hire a rickshaw to it (or walk 15-20 minutes through hutongs).
Beijing Bus / Subway Search
Recommended Nearby Hotel:
Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel (West Garden)
Shichahai Bike Adventure: ride along Hutongs and reach Houhai Lake to visit Prince Gong's Mansion
One Day Visit: Visit Shichahai and Houhai Hutongs
More Beijing City Tours