Old Summer Palace (Ruins of Yuanmingyuan)

Old Summer Palace
 Old Summer Palace Pictures
Also known as the Ruins of the Yuanmingyuan (the Garden of Perfection and Light), the Old Summer Palace is located northwest of Beijing and to the east of the present-day Summer Palace. The Garden was first constructed in the year of 1709 during the reign of the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Over the next 150 years, this Garden was expanded into a large-scale Chinese emperors' private pleasure garden, covering a total area of over 864 acres (350 hectares).

Generally speaking, the old Summer Palace consists of three parts - Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan (the Garden of Blossoming Spring) and Changchunyuan (the Garden of Eternal Spring). These three gardens are often referred to as one common name: Yuanmingyuan. Hundreds of scenic spots in the Garden are made up of exquisitely constructed halls, pavilions, chambers, kiosks, earth and rock hills, rivers and ponds, and exotic flowers and grasses from different parts of the country. Indeed, it embodies the essence of Chinese ancient landscape gardening.

To be distinct from other traditional Chinese Gardens, the garden construction and horticulture of the Old Summer Palace is a harmonious blend of typical Chinese scenery and western architecture. Famous scenic spots in it include the Grand Waterworks, the Throne for viewing the Waterworks and the Labyrinth. No wonder the Old Summer Palace was also called the 'garden of gardens' or the 'Versailles of the East' in Europe during that era. Furthermore, it was also an imperial museum that collected a large number of books, treasures and cultural artifacts. However, a large number of these collections were plundered by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, at the same time as the Garden was burnt down. Now, most of these historical curiosities are displayed in the other countries' museums, including the British Museum; Bibliotheque Nationale de France; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA; Oslo Museum of Applied Art and so on.

The scatted artifact in the palace
Ruins in Old Summer Palace
Replicas of 12 Bronze Animal Heads
Replicas of 12 Bronze Animal Heads

The vast majority of the remaining scenic spots were destroyed in the 1900s, but under the due protection of the ruins, a park has been established on the ruin site. So visitors can imagine the former grandeur of it from the crumbling walls and ruins. What's more, there is also an opportunity for visitors to view the complete picture of the garden in its 'heyday' in the exhibition hall. The reconstruction of some of the original structures and scenic spots provides people with a lovely place to relax.

Each year, a Lotus Fetival is held in this park from June to August. Changchunyuan Garden is the best place to appreciate lotus flowers.

How to get to the Old Summer Palace

 By Subway:
Take Subway Line 4 and get off at Yuanmingyuan Station. Get out from Exit B and you can see the south gate of the park.
 By Bus:
 South Gate: Take bus 331, 432, 438, 498, 508, 579, 594, 601, 664, or Yuntong 124, or Special Line 18 or 19, or Sightseeing Bus 3 and get off at Yuanmingyuan Nanmen Station.
 East Gate: Take bus 365, 429, 432, 562, 614, 664, 681, 699, 717, 982, or Yuntong 105, 124, or 126, or Special Line 4 and get off at Yuanmingyuan Dongmen Station.
 West Gate: Take bus 333 Inner, 333 Outer, 393, 437, 438, 476, 498, 509, 534, 636, or Special Line 6, or Yuntong 106, 108, 114 or 118 and get off at Saoziying Station.
Beijing Bus / Subway Search

Admission Fee Entrance Fee: CNY 10
Sites of European Palaces: CNY 15
Exhibition Hall of Yuanmingyuan in Heyday: CNY 10

 Note: Children under 3.9 feet (1.2m) can enter for free.
Opening Hours May-August: 07:00-19:00
April, September and October: 07:00-18:00
January, February, March, November and December: 07:00-17:30
Recommended Time for a Visit 2 hours

 Battery Car Service
Single-trip Ticket Price Route A: Junction of Three Gardens - Sites of European Palaces, CNY 8
Route B: Junction of Three Gardens - Jiuzhou Site, CNY 8
Route C: Sites of European Palace - Jiuzhou Site - Zaoyuan Gate: CNY 15
Route D: Junction of Three Gardens - Jiuzhou Site - Zaoyuan Gate: CNY 15
Hours April to October: 08:00-19:00
November to March: 08:00-17:00

 Recommended Packages: 
Day Trip to Old Summer Palace: one day tour to Summer Palace and Old Summer Palace
More Beijing Tours

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