Beijing Beihai Park
Beihai Park located in central Beijing, is one of the oldest and most authentically perserved imperial gardens in China. Directly south of Houhai, and on the northwest corner of the Forbidden City, is Beihai park. It has a history of 1000 years. Beihai has existed throughout the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Most of the buildings now standing were constructed during Emperor Qianlong's regin in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.).
Beihai was opened to the public
in 1925 and in 1961 it was one of the first important cultural sites
placed under protection by the State Council. The park occupies
an area of 69 hectares including a 39-hectare lake. In the garden,
pavilions and towers nestle amid the beautiful scenery of lakes
and hills,grass and trees. Carrying on the traditions of garden
landscaping of ancient China Beihai is a gem of garden art.
Beihai Park is best known for the striking White Pagoda Temple, another unmistakable landmark in Beijing’s plethora of temples and palaces. The White Pagoda was built as a memorial to a visit by the Dalai Lama in 1651, and is perched atop a hill in the southwest corner of the park, making it visible throughout the park. The colourful Nine-Dragon screen is another famous feature, and provides a picturesque backdrop for a photo opportunity. As with Houhai, a favourite activity in the summer months is hiring a boat and rowing on the lake.
History of BeiHai Park
Liao and Jin Dynasties
Early in the 10th century, the Liao dynasty created a secondary imperial palace at the site of the present Beihai Park. The lake was added during the Jin Dynasty. The earth removed to construct the lake was used to create three islands. Two have been joined to nearby land over time but the main one remains in the present Beihai Park.
In the 13th century the Mongols conquered the Jin and established the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). The first Yuan emperor, Kublai Khan, expanded the site of Beihai Park and made it the center of DaDu ('Great Capital'), the Yuan capital city (what is now Beijing). Kublai Khan lived in what is now the Round City of Beihai Park.
When the city of Beijing was laid out in its current plan (1406 - 1420 AD) during the reign of Ming Emperor YongLe, Beihai Park was restructured. It continued to function as the imperial family's pleasure garden. The lake was expanded and turned into the centerpiece of this magnificient and classical example of a chinese garden. However, the primary imperial palace - here under the Yuan Dynasty - was from then on to be the newly created Forbidden City.
Most of the buildings now standing in BeiHai Park were constructed during Emperor QianLong's reign (1736-1796) during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). It was Emperor QianLong who added the Five Dragon Pavilions and the Nine Dragon Screen.
In 1651, the White Dagoba, a Buddhist tower in Tibetan style (and the famous landmark of both Beihai Park and Beijing), was erected at the suggestion of a famous Tibetan Lama priest by the name of NomHan. Qing Emperor Shun Zhi agreed to this project as a gesture of devotion to the Buddhist faith - and from a desire for unity among China's various nationalities.
Beihai Park Today
BeiHai Park was first opened to the public in 1925 and in 1961 it was one of the first important cultural sites to be placed under state protection.
The Tibetan style White Dagoba, built in 1651, on Jade (JiongHua) Island is a landmark of both Beihai Park and Beijing.
A large tiled map of Beihai Park near the main south gate.
The gardens of BeiHai Park are partly modelled on the style of south China, so, fittingly, south China style paper umbrellas are on sale for protection from the heat of the sun in summer.
Beihai Park is a popular retreat for many local citizens. It is a place to cool down and relax in summer, and in winter it becomes one of the biggest skating rinks in the city.
Beihai Park is just half a kilometer to the west of the north gate of the Forbidden City.
Admission time and fee
Beihai Park is open daily from 6:00 - 22:00. Admission is 15 yuan.