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Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan), Beijing

4.1
#9 of 184 in Historic Sites in Beijing
Ruin Nature / Park
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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784 reviews
  • The palace is completely different from all the other palaces and museums when visiting Beijing. The gardens are beautiful and the black swans an absolute treat  more »
  • I have taught Chinese Studies for the past 15 years but decided to take my students on Jeremiah's walking tour this year when we visited the Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan) because his tours had gott...  more »
  • Our group of 8 (age range 7-53) enjoyed our informative tour of the Summer Palace with May from China Highlights. May was very informative about the history of the Dragon Lady was amazing. We wish we ...  more »

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