The Summer Palace (or Yihe yuan) was very easily one of the highlights of our trip. It isn't as famous as the Forbidden City, but is just as breathtaking. This amazing palace served as a summer resort for a Chinese Empress. It was originally built in 1750 -- (it still blows me away the ancient history that is everywhere in Asia!) Unfortunately, many of the signs indicated that many of the buildings were destroyed in the 1860 Anglo-French invasion and had since been rebuilt.
These dragons are a common sight around China. SangKwun explained to me that they do not have eyes because the Chinese believe these dragons are keeping an eye out for the ghosts and spirits invisible to the eye. That is why these statues are also seen outside of many restaurants and businesses in China.
The palaces were set up with sort of a river between it. There were tons of little buildings and nooks and crannies to explore.
To give you an idea of the size of these buildings, the little spec is Mark standing in front of the wall. Walking up and down these steps was a great workout!
Here's a Buddha in one of the palaces. As we walked through, there were some people worshiping and placing fresh fruit in front of it.
I just think this is a cool picture Mark got showing the detailing on the roof of the buildings.
Mark's becoming quite the photographer! Isn't this shot awesome and just so Asian looking? The hills were massive and we could see for miles.
There is a huge lake called Kunming Lake that covers about 3/4 of the palace grounds. This lake is entirely man made. The nearby hill, Longevity Hill, was made with the excavated soil from the lake. Can you even imagine the amount of time and manpower it had to have taken to build the lake and hill? This was over 300 years ago! That had to have been a lot of shovels and wheelbarrows!
This pathway goes all the way through and around the palace grounds. It's known as "the longest street in the world" as it goes for miles and miles and miles.
After walking around the palace for several hours, we got tickets to ride around the lake on a ferry like the one below.
We enjoyed the Summer Palace and it got us excited about the other things we could expect to see around China. Our next post will be about Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City! Stay tuned....