Summer Palace

By admin - Posted on 28 March 2008

As long ago as the Yuan dynasty, officials set up their private gardens in the scenic area, but the Summer Palace didn't take on its present appearance until the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty. He deepened the park's man madelake and added buildings to serve as a "country home" for his monther, though it would be the Empress Dowager Cixi who would have the biggest impact on the palace's appearance.
During the Second Opium War in 1860, the Summer Palace was looted and partially destroyed by French and British forces. In 1886, Cixi diverted funds earmarked to build a modern Chinese navy and spent the money on endowing the Summer Palace with a marble boat-shaped pavilion and other extravagances throughout the palace. She also gave the palace its current name, yiheyuan, which means the "Garden for Cultivating Harmony,"an ill-fitting name as the Summer Palace would inspire little harmony. China soon paid for her imperial lavishness when a modern Japanese fleet destroyed its navy in 1985.
In 1990, Western armies again unharmoniously sacked the Summer Palace, this time in retaliation for the Boxer Rebellion, Undeterred, Cixi again rebuilt this pleasure dome which had become her fulltime residence. She died in 1908, but the imprint of this cunning and powerful woman, who ruled China from behind the scenes for years, remains very strong on the buildings today.

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