Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen:
My name is XXX. I’m very honored to be youre guide. I do hope all of you could like my guiding and enjoy everything on your pleasant day. This morning we are going to visit the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is located on the northwest suburbs of Beijing, about 20 kilometers away from the center of the city. So it will take us about 1 hour to get there. Before we arrived at the Summer Palace, I would like to introduce you a brief introduction of the woderful imperial garden. The Summer Palace is the most beautiful and the largest imperial garden existing in Chinan, and it is the best-preserved imperial garden in the world. In 1998, it was placed on the List of World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO.
The Summer Palace was first built as an imperial garden at the beginning of 12th century in the Jin Dynasty. The construction continued to the Yuan and Ming dynasties. In the Qing Dynasty, the building of imperial gardens reached its culmination. During Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the famous ‘Three Hills and Five Gardens’ were built on the northwest suburbs of Beijing. The Summer Palace was a part of it and at that time was called the Garden of Clear Ripples. In 1860, the Anglo-French Allied Forces invaded Beijing. The ‘Three Hills and Five Gardens’ were burnt down to ashes.
In 1888, the Empress Dowager Cixi spent the navy fund having the Garden of Clear Ripples rebuilt. And then she renamed it the Garden of Nurtured Harmony (Summer Palace).
In 1900, the Allied Forces of Eight Powers invaded Beijing. The Summer Palace was once again severely damaged. It was rebuilt again in 1902.
In 1924, the Last Emperor Puyi was driven out of the palace, after that, the Summer Palace was turned into a public park.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please look over there, in front of us is an archway. It is called “Emptiness and the collection of excellence”, and it is the first scenery of the Summer Palace. The two Chinese words on the front side of the archway mean emptiness and refer to everything in nature and in the scenery. The two words on the back side mean Collection of Excellence and refer to the tranquility of the beautiful scenery just within the garden.
(outside the East Palace Gate)
Now, we have arrived at the East Palace Gate. It’s the main entrance of the Summer Palace. On top of the gate there is a plaque with three Chinese characters ‘The Summer Palace’ in Emperor Guangxu’s handwriting. The gate that we are now entering was used by the emperor, the empress only in the old days.
(Inside the East Palace Gate)
Now we are inside the Summer Palace. In front of us is the second gate of the Summer Palace— the Gate of Benevolence and Longevity. The annex halls on both sides were used for officials on duty and the offices of the Privy Council. Well, Before we start our tour in the garden, I will briefly introduce you the layout of the Summer Palace and our tour route. O.K., ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please? Let’s look at the map together, From it we can see the Summer Palace covers an area of 290 hectares, which the lake occupies the three-fourths. The whole garden can be divide into three parts: the area was for political activities, resting places of the emperor and empress, and sightseeing areas. Our tour will start from the area of the political activities, and end off the Marble Boat. On the way, we will visit the main constructions of the Summer Palace, such as the Hall of Jade Ripples, the Hall of Happiness and Longevity, the Long Corridor, the Hall of Dispelling Clouds and so on. It will take us about two hours to visit the Summer Palace. Please attention, we won’t walk back and our driver will pick us up at the North Gate. Should you get lost or separated from the group, please meet us at the North Gate.
Ok, everyone, let’s start our tour from the emperors’ office --- the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. Follow me please.
(Inside the courtyard of the Benevolence and Longevity)
Passing through the Gate of Benevolence and Longevity, we have already entered the courtyard of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. The huge rock in front of us is Taihu Rock. It was quarried from Taihu Lake in Jiangsu Province, so it was known as Taihu Rock. Please look around the courtyard and you can see there are four grotesque shaped rocks placed in each corner of this courtyard, representing the four seasons of the year. The Taihu Rocks are usually used as decoration for beautifying gardens and they are thin, crease, leak and penetration in characters.
The bronze mythical animal behind the Taihu Rock is known as Suanni or some people call it Qilin. According to ancient Chinese mythology, the dragon had nine sons, but none of them became a real dragon. Suanni was one of the nine sons of the dragon. It was an auspicious animal that could avoid evil spirits in ancient lengeds. Suanni has the head of dragon, the antlers of dear, the hooves of ox and the tail of lion.
(In front of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity)
This grand hall is the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. It was first built in 1750. The name of this hall taken from a book entitled ‘Lun Yu’ by Confucius doctrine means, “ those who are benevolent can enjoy a long life.” This hall was the place where Emperor Guangxu and Empress Dowager Cixi held audience and handled state affairs when they were in the Summer Palace. For protecting the historical cultural relic, we couldn’t enter the hall. So I would like to briefly introduce you the decorations in the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. The arrangement of the hall has been left untouched. In the middle of the hall stands an emperor’s throne carved with nine dragons on design. There are two big fans on both sides behind the throne which are made of peacock feathers. Behind the throne there is a big screen with red sandalwood frame and glass mirror inlaid. On the mirror there are 226 Chinese characters of the word ‘Longevity’ written in different styles. There are two scrolls on each side of the wall with a big Chinese character ‘Longevity’ written on it. It was said that the word ‘Longevity’ written by Empress Dowager Cixi. There are 100 bats painted at the background of the scroll symbolizing happiness.
Well, please look up the two pairs of incense burners in the shape of a dragon and a phoenix in front of the hall. They were used to burn incense sticks to create the appropriate atmosphere. In the old days, the dragon and phoenix were the symbol of the emperor and empress. According to ritual, the dragons should be placed in the center while phoenixes were to either side in front of the hall.However, here, the dragons are off to the sides and the phoenixes are in the middle. This was a product of the end of Qing Dynasty when Empress Dowager Cixi handled state affairs behind the screen.
(At the entrance of Garden of virtuour Harmony)
We are now visiting the Garden of Virtuous Harmony, where Emperor Qianlong and Empress Dowager Cixi were entertained with Bejing Opera performances. It mainly consists of the Dressing House, the Grand Theater Building and the Hall of Pleasure Smile. The Grand Theater Building was known as the ‘Cradle of Beijing Opera’ was uniquely laid out and magnificently decorated. There are 7 exhibition halls with articles of daily use on display here.
(In front of the Grand Theater Building)
This is the Grand Theater Building. Of the three main theater buildings of the Qing Dynasty, the Grand Theater Building is the tallest and largest one. The other two are Changyin Pavilion in the Forbidden City and Qingyin Pavilion in the Mountain Resort in Chengde. The Grand Theater Building, a three-storied structure, has a double roof with upturned eaves. It is 21 meters high and 17 meters wide. Performances could be staged simultaneously on three levels. The top one was a symbol of happiness, the middle level was emolument level and the bottom stage was named longevity stage. Each level has the entrance and the exit. There are some trapdoors in the ceiling and below the floor for ‘celestial being’ to fly down from the sky and the ‘devils’ to appear from the earth to set off a certain atmosphere on the stage. There is also a well and five ponds built under the stage for a good effect of water scenes. The stage is open to three sides.
Well, please look at the construction that stands right opposite the Grand Theater Building, it’s the Hall of Pleasure Smile. The Empress Dowager Cixi used bo sit inside the hall to watch and enjoy the Peking Opera.
(A lakeside walk from the Garden of virtuous Harmony to the Hall of Jade Ripples)
We are now standing in the middle of a rockery behind the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. It appears that there’s nothing special ahead. However, after we clear the rockery, we will reach Kunming Lake. This is an application of a specific style of Chinese
Now, we are walking along the bank of the Kunming Lake. Look over there, not far away in the lake there is an islet. It’s called the Spring Heralding Islet. The pavilion on the islet is called the Spring Heralding Pavilion. A number of willow trees and peach trees were planted on this islet. In early spring, when the ice begins to melt, peach trees are red in pink blossoms, willow trees turn a tender green signaling that the early spring has returned. Hence the name ‘Heralding Sping Pavilion’.
(In front of the Hall of Jade Ripples)
This group of special and quiet courtyard dwellings is the Hall of Jade Ripples. The words “Jade Ripples” came from a verse “Gentle ripples gushing out of Jade Spring”, which refers to the rippling water in the lake. It was first used by Emperor Qianlong to attend to state affairs. In the late Qing Dynasty, it was where Emperor Guangxu was put under house arrest.
This hall is a hallmark of the Movement of 1898. Emperor Guangxu was Emperor Dowager Cixi’s nephew. After Emperor Tongzhi died, Emperor Dowager Cixi made her nephew, who was at that time four years old a successor in order to continue her hold on imperial power. She ‘handled state affairs behind the screen’. After Emperor Guangxu ‘managed state affairs personally’ at the age of 19, a political conflict occurred between the conservatives and the reformers. In 1898, the Reform Movement took place with the aim of sustaining the core principles of the Qing Dynasty while reforming outdated laws. The movement lasted for103 days until it was suppressed by Empress Dowager Cixi. It was called the ‘Hundred-Day Reform’. After the reform failed, Emperor Guangxu was put under house arrest here. For the strict control of him, Empress Dowager Cixi ordered to build many brick walls in the front, back, and on the right and left of the Hall of Jade Ripples. At that time the hall was entirely sealed up, just like a prison. Today only the hidden walls in the east and west annex room still maintain its original appearance. It is open to visitors as the relic related to the 1898 Reform Movement.
(In front of the Chamber of Collecting Books)
This is the Chamber of Collecting Books. In Chinese, it’s called “Yi Yun Guang”. “Yun” was a kind of fragrant weed. In ancient times, it was usually used as termite repellent in rooms where books were stored.In the Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the purpose of the hall was for collecting books. Later it was converted into a residence. There used to be the residence of Guangxu’s Empress Longyu, and his favorite concubine Zhenfei.
(In the Hall of Happiness and Longevity)
This group of courtyard is the Hall of Happiness and Longevity. It was the major architectural structure in the living quarters and the residence of Empress Dowager Cixi. The whole compound was basically made of wood, which is ideal for ventilation and lighting. With its quiet and tasteful layout, the Hall of Happiness and Longevity made life very easy and convenient. In front of the Hall of Happiness and Longevity there is a huge rock placed in the middle of this courtyard named “Qing Zhi Xiu” and nicknamed as “Family Bankruptcy Rock”. This huge rock was discovered in Fangshan District by a Ming official Mi Wanzhong. He wanted to transport it to his own garden “Shaoyuan”. In the old days, transporting such rock was very difficult. After spending all his money to ship it, he still could not succeed in doing this. The big rock was then left on the roadside somewhere near Liangxiang County, 30 kilometers southwest of Beijing. Hence it was nicknamed “Family Bancruptcy Rock”. Later Emperor Qianlong discovered it and transported to the Garden of Clear Ripples and laid in front of the Hall of Happiness and Longevity. The colorful glass chandeliers hanging inside the hall was introduced from Germany in 1903. It is one of the earliest electric lights in China.
(In front of the Gate of Inviting the Moon of the Long Corridor)
Ladies and Gentlemen, you may have visited some of the best museums in the world, such as the Louvre in France and the Museum of Great Britain. Now I will show you a special gallery in the palace—the Long Corridor. In 1990, the Long Corridor was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as ‘the longest painted corridor’ in the world’. It would be a pity if we leave the Summer Palace without visiting the Long Corridor and the Marble Boat. Now, here we go, the Long Corridor first!
(Strolling along the Long Corridor)
The Long Corridor starts from the Gate Inviting the Moon to the Shizhang Gate. It is 728 meters long and consists of 273 sections. The Long corridor is one of the major structures of the Summer Palace. Since the corridor was designed to follow the physical features of the southern slope of Longevity Hill, four multiple-eaved, octagonal pavilions ( Retaining the Goodness Pavilion, Living with the Ripples Pavilion, Autumn Water Pavilion, Clear and Far Pavilion) were placed at bends and undulation, they represent four seaons of a year. Thus visitors will hardly notice the rise and fall of the terrain. As a major part of the architectural style of the Summer Palace, the Long Corridor serves as an ingenious connector between the Lake and the Hill. Scattered buildings on the southern slope were linked to create a unified complex.
The Long Corridor is the longest covered veranda in any Chinese garden. On the purlins and beams of the covered veranda, there are over 14,000 Suzhou style paintings. Among them, there are 546 color paintings relating to the scenes of West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. Beside the colorful paintings of natural scenery, there are also scenes of flowers, birds, fish, insects, mythology and figures. The paintings of figures are mainly adapted from ancient Chinese classical literature, such as ‘Pilgrimage to the West’, ‘The Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, ‘The western Chamber’, “Water Margin’, and ‘The Dream of the Red Mansion’.
(In front of the Gate of Dispelling Clouds)
Now we are approaching the central part of the structures on the lakeside slope, the Tower of Buddhist Incense within the Hall of Dispelling Clouds. The central axis line starts from the wharf next to the lake to the Sea of Wisdom on top of the Hill. The main architectural structures here are the Gate of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Dispelling clouds, Tower of Buddhist Incense and the Sea of Wisdom, which altogether form a splendid three-dimensional landscape. The layout of this group of architectures was based on scenes described in Buddhist sutras. This group of structures are among the most magnificently constructed here in the Summer Palace. This is a good place to taking photos, we will stay here for about 15 minutes.
Now we are walking continuely along the Long Corridor, the next scene we are going to visit is Marble Boat.
Look over there! Halfway up the slope there stands the Hall of Listening to Orioles. It was the place for emperor and empress to enjoy opera and court music. It is said the singing of orioles is very pleasing. Before the Garden of Virtuous Harmony was built, Empress Dowager Cixi enjoyed opera and music here. Now the hall is one of the most famous restaurants in China, featuring imperial dishes and desserts.
This is the famous Marble Boat. A famous scientist of China’s Eastern Han Dynasty once said, “Water can float the boat, but it can also tip it over.” A prime minister of Tang Dynasty Wei Zheng once used these words to persuade Li Shimin, the emperor of the Tang Dynasty. He said people are water and the emperor is the boat. People can support a good emperor. However, they also can overthrow the dynasty. Emperor Qianlong built this huge boat in the Garden in order to make the allusion concrete. On one hand, Emperor Qianlong encouraged himself to run the country well. On the other hand, he wanted to show that his rule of the Qing Dynasty was as firm as the Marble Boat and there was no fear of overturning the boat. The Marble Boat was the place for Emperor Qianlong to sample tea and enjoy the scenery of Kunming Lake. Emperor Qianlong once came here to engage in the freeing of captive animals. In the times of Qianlong, the Marble Boat was a Chinese styled stone boat with a Chinese style wooden superstructure on the top of it. When it was rebuilt in the times of Guangxu, a foreign and Chinese elements mixed resulting in two wheels to be added to the boat, one on each side. The floor was paved with colored bricks. All of the windows were inlaid with multiple-colored glass. A big mirror was installed on the superstructure for viewing rain.
Our tour is drawing to a close after we visited the Marble Boat. Today we only visited the major scenic spots of the Summer Palace. I have left other spots of interest for your next visit. I will now show you out through the Ruyi Gate. Our coach is waiting for us outside the gate. I do hope you enjoyed today’s tour. Thank you.