The Summer Palace is located 15 kilometres from central Beijing, is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), it was extended continuously. By the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. Originally called ‘Qingyi Garden’ (The Garden of Clear Ripples), it was know as one of the famous ‘Three hills and Five gardens’, (these being Longevity Hill; Jade Spring Mountain and Fragrant Hill; The Garden of Clear Ripples, the Garden of Everlasting Spring, the Garden of Perfection and Brightness, the Garden of Tranquillity and Brightness, and the Garden of Tranquillity and Pleasure). Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, the Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to the Summer Palace. She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public. Composed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, The Summer Palace occupies an area of 294 hectares, three quarters of which is water. Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens exquisitely so that visitors would see marvellous scenery and be amazed by the perfect examples of their refined craftwork using the finest of materials.
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