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Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven private tour

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is located on the northwest outskirts of Beijing, about 20 kilometers away from the center of the city. It is the best-preserved imperial garden in the world and one of the largest of its kind still in existence in China today.
The Summer Palace is formed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. It occupies a total area of over 290 hectares. Longevity Hill covers one quarter of the total area, which is about 70 hectares, while Kunming Lake covers the rest of the three quarters, which is about 220 hectares. Longevity Hill is an extension of the Western Hills. While Kunming Lake used to get the water from the springs of Jade Spring Hill, which lies to its west, Kunming Lake now gets the water from Miyun Reservoir, northeast of Beijing, 102 kilometers away. The peaks of the Western Hills and the pagoda on Jade Spring Hill can be seen in the distance. This is a typical method in garden-building, known as ¡°borrowing the scenery from a distance.¡±

The beautiful former imperial garden is set off by a multitude of highly decorative buildings, halls, pavilions, bridges, towers, islands and courtyards. These structures give the visitors to the Summer Palace a feeling of perfection, magnificence and harmony which is created by this splendid layout. The Summer Palace is very famous in the world not only because it is an ingenious combination of manmade architecture with the scenic beauty of nature, but also it is an architectural masterpiece and treasure of the traditional art of Chinese gardening. The Summer Palace harmoniously combines artificial and natural attractions into a picturesque landscape.

In 1888, during the Qing Emperor Guangxu¡¯s reign, Empress Dowager Cixi spent a fabulous sum of money having the Garden of Clear Ripples rebuilt. The money she spent to rebuild the Garden was pinched from the navy fund, intended for the development of the Chinese navy, and then she renamed is the Summer Palace. Actually before 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi had ordered the rebuilding of the Garden of Clear Ripples and other gardens several times, but because of the shortages in the national treasury and financial resources, her orders met with a strong resistance, and the order hadn¡¯t been carried out. Emperor Guangxu¡¯s father, Prince Yi Xuan, who was in charge of the office of the navy, wanted to gain favor with Empress Dowager Cixi, and hoped his son would have some real power. In order to deceive the public, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled the nave funds to have the Garden rebuilt under the excuse of setting up a navy academy inside. But the ship for training was no other than a small steamer, which was also used to pull the imperial excursion boat around the lake. The lack of a well-trained navy was the direct cause of the Chinese defeat in the Sino Japanese War of 1894.

In 1900, the Allied Forces of Eight powers invaded Beijing and the Summer Palace was once again severely damaged. Empress Dowager Cixi escaped to Xian together with Emperor Guangxu, so the invaders occupied the Summer Palace for almost one year. They took everything valuable and destroyed most of the buildings, temples and halls, even the stone statues on the wall of the temple.

1n 1902, Empress Dowager Cixi returned from Xian back to Beijing and she immediately ordered the garden rebuilt. A fabulous sum of money was spent to have the Summer Palace reconstructed the second time. The reconstruction was completed in the following year in 1903. after that, Empress Dowager Cixi came to live in the Summer Palace from April to October every ear for the rest of her life. The Summer Palace became not only her summer resort and pleasure garden, but also the secondary imperial palace for the administration.

The Summer Palace today is more or less the same as the Summer Palace that was rebuilt in 1903. Empress Dowager Cixi died in 1908. After the 1911 Revolution, the articles of Favorable Treatment signed by the new Republic Government, stipulated that the Summer Palace still belonged to the Qing imperial family. In 1904, as a private Imperial Garden of Emperor Puyi, the Summer Palace was opened to those people who could afford the admission tickets. After the last Emperor Puyi was driven out of the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace was turned from an imperial garden into a public park. On July 1st, 1928, the Summer Palace was officially opened to the public.
The Summer Palace was built with garden architecture but it was somewhat different from the palatial architecture of the Forbidden City. Instead of the resplendent yellow glazed tiles, the roofs were covered with plain bluish gray tiles in harmony with the landscape. The trees, flowerbeds, rocks and pavilions made the place look more like a garden than an imperial court.

The Summer Palace is an important historical site under the special protection of the Chinese Government. Over the past 50 years, the Chinese Government has spent lots of money renovating the Summer palace several times. We have planted numerous trees and flowers here and made this old imperial garden take on a completely new look. In 1961, the Summer Palace was listed as one of the important historical monuments under special preservation by the Chinese Government, and in 1998, it was listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.

The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is situated in the southern part of Beijing. It was first built in 1420, in the Ming Dynasty, during the time when the Forbidden City and some other important imperial structures were constructed.

It covers an area of 273 hectares, which is 3 times larger than the Forbidden City. The Temple of Heaven is not only the largest group of temple buildings in China, but also the largest heaven-worshipping architecture in the world.
In 1961, the Temple of Heaven was listed as one of the important historical monuments under special preservation by the Chinese Government, and in 1998 it was listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.

When Emperor Zhu Di decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, the construction of the imperial palace was started in 1406. at the same time he chose to build a Heaven worshiping altar in this area, which is about 2.5 kilometers southeast outside Zhengyangmen, the south gate of the inner city.

Originally, the Temple of Heaven was called Temple of Heaven and Earth, because it was built according to the temple of Heaven and Earth in Nanjing, the early Ming capital at that time, so both heaven and earth were worshiped here. In 1530, another structure, the Temple of Earth was worshiped separately. Since 1421-1530, over a hundred years or so, there were altogether 9 emperors of the Ming Dynasty who held the worshipping ceremony of both heaven and earth for over a hundred times.

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Temple of Heaven was the place where the emperors came to worship the God of heaven and prayed for a good harvest. The emperor came here twice a year, but if there happened to be a drought that year, the emperor would come here on Summer Solstice to hold a ceremony praying to Heaven for rain. So sometimes the emperor came here three times a year.
The first time for the emperor to come here was on the 15th day of the first lunar month. The emperor would come to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest and hold a big ceremony to pray for a bumper harvest. The second time for the emperor to come here was on Winter Solstice, and a sacrificial ceremony would be held at the Circular Mount Altar to offer a sacrifice to Heaven. All the worshipping was mainly to Heaven; secondarily, it was to the ancestors of the emperors, as well as to the Gods of the sun, the moon, the stars, the wind, the thunder and the lightning. Such sacrificial activities combined religious authority with human rights, and showed not only a grand ceremony of worship to Heaven, but also the emperor¡¯s supreme power, respect and nobility.

The Temple of Heaven was a sacred place in the minds of ancient Chinese. People believed that it was the place to convey the people¡¯s wishes to Heaven. In ancient China, the traditional consideration was a follows: everything, no matter good fortune or bad fortune, happiness or disaster, stability or troubled times, was all related and controlled by Heaven. All the Chinese Emperors-paid strong veneration to Heaven, for they believed that Heaven could dominate and dictate everything in the human world. In order to tell people that their imperial divine power was conferred on them by Heaven, they showed great concern over the rituals of the Heavenly worship. At that time, the emperor was regarded as the ¡°Son of Heaven¡±. Any natural disasters, bad harvests or instability in society were signs that the emperor had lost favor with Heaven or was being punished by Heaven. Therefore, ceremonies for sacrifices to Heaven were extremely important to the imperial rulers.

However, in 1918, the Temple of Heaven was opened to the public and turned into a park. Being a sacred place for worshipping Heaven, the Temple of Heaven had been seriously damaged once by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, and then by the invading troops of the eight powers in 1900. at that time, the invaders occupied the Temple of Heaven and had their headquarters set up in the Hall of Abstinence. The invaders¡¯ artillery was placed on the Circular Mount Altar facing the Forbidden City. In 1937, Japanese aggressors entered and occupied the Temple of Heaven, and they set up a bacteria laboratory inside.

As a site for worshipping heaven, the Temple of Heaven is different from any other imperial structure. Architecturally speaking, the Temple of heaven has two themes: heaven and earth. The surrounding walls of the Temple of heaven are 6 meters high with a semicircular wall to the north and square shaped wall to the south. This represents an ancient belief that Heaven was round and Earth was square. The north wall was high while the south was low. This layout indicates that Heaven was high and the Earth was low. The main buildings in the Temple of Heaven are circular shaped but each building has a round and a square wall around it. This layout again show the ancient people¡¯s belief that heaven was round while the earth was square.

Tour Schedule:
Our well-trained English-speaking tour guide will pick you up from the hotel at 8:30 in the morning, drive to the the Temple of Heaven , our guide will introduce some interesting stories, After that, we will have lunch, after short break. in the afternoon visit Summer Palace. , and then you will be transferred back to your hotel,

Tour cost:

Forbidden City ,Summer Palace and Temple of Heaven Private Tour p/p cost


1 person

2 persons

3-5 persons

6-9 persons


1600 RMB

900 RMB

800 RMB

650 RMB

Tour includes:
Entrance fee
Chinese traditional lunch
Well-trained English-Speaking tour guide
Private vehicle

Please send your email to thebeijingtour@gmail.com. You are also welcome to call us at + 86-10-135 5252 7373 .

Confirmation Sheet

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Date: 05/20/2009

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