Prince Gong's Mansion

Prince Gong's Mansion 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.
Prince Gong''''s Mansion Learning the history of Prince Gong''s Mansion

The dwelling is a traditional courtyard mansion of a style that was so popular in imperial Beijing. The complex covers a total area of 60,000 square meters (14.9 acres). Just over half of the Prince Gong's Mansion is the residential portion, while the remainder is devoted to an ornamental garden to the rear.

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'.

The West-style Gate
West-style Gate
Listening to Chinese opera
Listening to Peking Operas
The Western-Style Gate is a perfect harmonization of the western style with ancient Chinese carvings. The timber built Grand Theater House is to be found in the eastern part of the garden with a collection of old-time pavilions standing beside it. It has withstood more than 100 years of northern China's changeable weather and still stands firmly. The Beijing Opera, Kunqu Opera and selections of royal music are performed on the spacious and traditionally decorated stage each day.

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.

The Prince Gong's Mansion 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 the Prince Gong's Mansion will be open to the public as an all-round museum designed to exhibit the royal mansion life in the Qing Dynasty.


By Bus:
Take bus 13, 3, 612, 701, 118, 42, 107, 111 and get off at Beihai Bei Men (Beihai North Gate) Station and hire a rickshaw to it (or walk 15-20 minutes through hutongs).

By Subway:
Take Subway Line 4 to Ping'anli then walk 1.2km eastwards from Exit C along Dianmen Xi Dajie to find Hehua Market on the north side of the road. The mansion is in depth of hutongs behind Hehua Market.
 Beijing Bus / Subway Search
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 3.9 feet (1.2 meters).
Opening Hours:

Ticket sales time:
April 1 to October 31: 08:00 - 17:00
November 1 to the next March 31: 09:00 - 16:00
1. Visitors are stopped to enter at 16:40 (April 1 to October 31) and 16:10 (November 1 to next March 31).
2. The Exhibition Hall is opened from 08:10 to 17:50 (April 1 to October 31), and 09:10 to 16:50 (November 1 to next March 31).
3. The mansion is cleared up at 18:30.

Recommended Time for a Visit: 2 hours

 Suggested Itineraries:
Shichahai Biking: ride along Hutongs and reach Houhai to visit Prince Gong's Mansion
Shichahai and Houhai Hutongs: Visit the Hutong area to exprience the traditional local life
More Beijing Tours

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