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Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan), Beijing

(4.1/5 based on 750+ reviews on the web)
Favorite summer retreat for Qing emperors until its systematic destruction by Anglo-French troops in 1860, Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) serves as a reminder of the ruthlessness of European gunboat diplomacy. Originally built in the 12th century, this partially restored palace spans 350 hectares (864 acres), expanded in the 18th and early 19th centuries with the help of two Italian Jesuits. Take a boat ride to explore lotus ponds, or stroll along the Jiuzhou lakefront to ponder intricately carved stone ruins and hundreds of scenic spots. Ascend the throne for observing waterworks and the maze of this "Versailles of the East," looted and thoroughly destroyed by the West. The first ever Pekinese dog in the UK, kidnapped by Lord Elgin from this spot as a gift to Queen Victoria, started a real vogue among British elites of the time. Arrange your visit to Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) and discover more family-friendly attractions in Beijing using our Beijing holiday planner.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • The palace was huge with lots of structures, gardens, etc. We bought the 50 yuan ticket which permitted most of the meaningful sites. I would advise visitors to enter the Main Gate and exit the North ...  more »
  • My boyfriend and I love exploring this park, it offers lots of off the beaten path walkways and you can climb over hills and through trees. We haven't gone into the historical section yet, and haven't...  more »
  • Loved climbing right to the top and exploring all the interesting temples. Walking back down through the gardens and along the semi-frozen lake. Cant wait to go back when it is a bit warmer!  more »