There are many relics parks in Beijing, which not only reflect the vicissitudes of history but also display the charms of old Beijing. While carrying on the traditional Chinese culture, they have left a precious legacy for the world.
The Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace) is in northwestern Beijing, near the Summer Palace. First built in 1707, it had three gardens: Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness), Changchunyuan (Garden of Eternal Spring) and Qichunyuan (Elegant Spring Garden). Featuring 160,000 square kilometers of palaces and gardens in both Chinese and western styles, it was built by three emperors of the Qing Dynasty within a period of more than 150 years.
Famed as “Garden of Gardens”, the Yuanmingyuan inherited China’s more than 3,000-year tradition of fine landscape architecture, featuring the elegance of imperial architecture and the gracefulness of southern Yangtze River Delta gardens. It also absorbed the quintessence of European-style gardens. Being a combination of diverse garden architectural styles, it was acclaimed as “An Example of Ideals and Art” by Victor Hugo. Yuanmingyuan was looted and then set ablaze by Anglo-French allied troops in 1860. Today, only ruins remain.
Address: 28 West Qinghau Road, Haidian District, Beijing.
Ming Dynasty City Wall Ruins Park
The Ming Dynasty City Wall Ruins Park, located in the heart of Beijing, stretches from the Chengdongnan watchtower on the east to Chongwenmen on its west, with a total area of 15.5 hectares. The wall ruins and the Chengdongnan watchtower occupy 3.3 hectares and the green land 12.2 hectares. The Ming Dynasty City Wall, originally 40 kilometers long, was begun in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty. The remaining 1.5-km-long stretch of wall was part of the inner city wall of Beijing. Now it is a symbol of Beijing Municipality. Chengdongnan watchtower is the largest watchtower at a corner of a city wall surviving in China.
Address: 9 East Chongwenmen Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing.
Yuan Dynasty City Wall Relics Park (Yuan Capital Earthen Wall Relics Park)
The capital of the Yuan Dynasty, Dadu, built by Kublai Khan over a period of 18 years, was sited northeast the capital of the defeated Jin Dynasty. It laid a foundation for today’s Beijing. Its planning reflected the traditions of Chinese dynastic capital construction. The city wall of Dadu was 28,000 meters long and was built with rammed earth. During the early Ming Dynasty, when the north wall was relocated southward, the northernmost part of the Yuan city wall was left outside the new city wall. Thus, it is generally called the Earthen Wall.
The Yuan Dynasty City Wall Relics Park was built on the site of the Earthen Wall. It stretches from Mingguang Village on South Xueyuan Road in Haidian District to Hangtingzi in the north and then turns east to Shaoyaoju of Chaoyang District via Madian and Qijia Huozi, mostly superposing the northern section of Subway Line 10. The earthen wall at Madian is 12.5-meter-tall and 31-meter-wide. At Deshengmenwai, there is a place called Tuchengguan (Earth Wall Pass), which is the site of the Yuan capital’s Jiandemen.
Address: Jia 8 Shaoyaoju, Chaoyang District, Beijing.
Huangchenggen Relics Park
The Huangchenggen Relics Park, located in the heart of Beijing, is the largest central park in the city. It borders Chang’an Avenue on the south and reaches Ping’an Avenue on the north, with a greening ratio of 90 percent. The park, built after the Donghuamen site of the Ming Dynasty was excavated, is an open-air “museum’. In the middle is a garden featuring a siheyaun (rectangular courtyard) of old Beijing and 10 layered-fountains built to match the falling terrain. In addition, the park has six sculptures and three groups of bass-reliefs that showcase the unique cultural and historical line of the ancient capital.
Address: Nanheyan Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing.
Wanshou Park was built on the site of the Guandi Temple, which was generally called Wanshou Xigong (Wanshou West Palace). It was first built in 1580, the 8th year of Ming Emperor Wanli’s reign. During ancient times, Guan Yu, Kong Ming and Lü Dongbin were enshrined and worshipped in the temple. Now, the temple halls and stone inscriptions still remain in the park. Originally, in the east part was a palace, known as Wanshou Donggong (Wanshou East Palace).
The whole park has eight scenic sports. Apart from the original nearly 1,000 trees, there are more than 6,800 plants, including pine, cypress, sophora japonica and ginkgo trees, more than 6,600 varieties of perennial flowers, a variety of shrubs and more than 25,000 square kilometers of lawns. There are flowers during three seasons of the year and the autumn scenery is delightful. The scenic spots have inscriptions by more than 30 calligraphers.
Address: Jia 29 East Baizhifang Street, Xicheng District, Beijing.