The Summer Palace is the largest and best-preserved royal garden in China and has a history of over 800 years. Mainly consists of Longevity Hill (which can be divided into Front Hill and Rear Hill) and Kunming Lake, this present Summer Palace covers a vast area of 294 hectares, in which three quarters are water. All the man-made hills, halls, pavilions and temples, including Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, blend together harmoniously in spite of their individual styles. Ingeniously conceived and elaborately designed, this garden, concentrating the features of the gardens in southern and northern China, can be reputed as the soul of the Chinese gardens.
The Beijing Zoo
Now the Beijing Zoo covers an area of about 50 hectares. The animal houses and enclosures, with a total floor space of 40,000 square metres, include those for pandas, elephants, brown and polar bears, tigers, hippopotami, rhinoceros, antelopes, giraffes and reptiles. More than 6,000 animals of over 500 species are on show.
The temple was originally a palace for Emperor Yongzheng before he was made emperor. When he took the throne in 1723 the palace was converted into a Buddhist temple in line with Chinese tradition. During the cultural revolution in the late 60’s and early 70’s the temple was closed and threatened with destruction. Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai intervened personally to save the temple and it eventually reopened with lamas from Mongolia in residence in the 1980’s.