Archway of Modesty:Built in 1750,the Archway of Modesty, is a structure with four pillars .Each side of its stone lintel is inscribed with two Chinese characters in the handwriting of Emperor Qianlong –“Han Xu”on one side ,and “Yan Xiu”on the other ,which describe the picturesque beauty of this imperial garden.
East Palace Gate :The East Palace Gate ,oriented to the east,is the front gate of the Summer Palace .For a time it was reserved exclusively for the use of the Qing emperors and empresses.Hanging under the eaves of the gateway is a gilded nameboard decorated with nine dragon paterns an inscribed with the three Chinese characters”Yi He Yuan”in the calligraphy of Emperor Guangxu.
Hall of Benevolence and Longevity (Renshou Dian):First built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) during the Qing dynasty, this building was named the Hall of Diligent Government when the whole Summer Palace area was called the Garden of Clear Ripples. In the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886), the Hall was rebuilt where it had been before the Anglo-French Allied Forces burned it down in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860). Citing the saying “the benevolent enjoy longevity” from the Analects of Confucius, it was renamed the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. This was where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu handled court affairs, accepted laudations and received foreign diplomats during their stay in the Summer Palace. As such, it was the Summer Palace’s main government building.1898，Emperor Guangxu met Kang Youwei,leader of the reformers,and appointed him reform counselor,declaring an institutional reform.
Garden of Virtue and Harmony (Dehe Yuan):This garden is lying north of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, was built as a theater for the Empress Dowager. Its construction began in the 17th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1891) and lasted for five years. The garden consists of the Great Stage, the Hall of Health and Happiness,and Qingshan Hall.The three-storey theater stage is the biggest and best-preserved wooden stage of delicate design and magnificent structure, and is therefore of much scientific and artistic value. Famous Beijing Opera actors of the Qing Dynasty such as Yang Xiaolou and Tan Xinpei would come here to perform for the Empress Dowager and the stage was regarded as the “Cradle of Beijing Opera”. The Empress Dowager also granted special permission for some of the princes, dukes and cabinet ministers to watch Beijing opera here.
Visitors can imagine the scene when the Empress Dowager watched opera in this garden. A large number of precious articles used by emperors and empresses, as well as some of the gifts presented to the Qing court by foreign states, are on display here.
Zhichun Ting (Heralding Spring Pavilion):Built on the small island in front of the Hall of Jade Ripples, beside Kunming Lake’s east bank, the pavilion backs onto a hill and to the south it faces the sun. This position permits a privileged view of spring’s arrival, thus it was christened Heralding Spring Pavilion. It provides the best overall view of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, as well as wonderful views of the scenery from the Jade Spring Hills and the Western Hills.
Wenchang Yuan (Wenchang Gallery):Located to the east of the Wenchang Tower in the Summer Palace, the Wenchang Gallery is the largest and the most impressive gallery of its kind in any classical Chinese garden.
On display in its six halls are thousands of artifacts extracted from the Summer Palace, covering some 3,600 years from the Shang and Zhou dynasties to the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. The exhibits include bronzeware, jewelry, chinaware, furniture, paintings, calligraphy, ancient books, enamels, clocks, handicrafts made of gold, silver, bamboo, wood, ivory, horn and lacquer, and other miscellaneous items, representing almost all types of Chinese antiques. As one would expect in an imperial garden, these artifacts demonstrate the highest techniques and craftsmanship of their times, and many were once highly important symbols of the state. Also on display in the halls are objects related to the everyday life of emperors and empresses in the Qing court. They are of great historical value and provide some of the most reliable material evidence of the court culture in imperial China.
Yulan Tang (Hall of Jade Ripples):Originally built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) with passageways in all directions, the hall was burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860). It was reconstructed in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) as the emperor’s living quarters. Following the failure of the 1898 Reforms under Emperor Guangxu, Empress Dowager Cixi ordered that the courtyard be blocked off, thereby converting it into a place for keeping the Emperor under house arrest.
Yiyun Guan (Yiyun Hall):Yiyun means the collection of books. The hall was originally built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) with two side wings, each with five bays. The east wing was named the “Method Keeping Room” and the west one was named the “Nearing the West Room”. Burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860), it was rebuilt in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) to serve as a residence for the Empress.
These were the living quarters for Empress Long Yu when she, as Emperor Guangxu’s wife, stayed in the Summer Palace. A niece of the Empress Dowager Cixi, she had the title of Empress bestowed on her in the first month of the 15th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1889). When Emperor Guangxu and the Empress Dowager Cixi died of ill health and Puyi became Emperor in 1908, she was elevated to the position of Empress Dowager under the imperial title of Long Yu. In this capacity, she issued an order to give up the throne in 1911 after the Wuchang Uprising.
Hall of Happiness in Longevity (Leshou Tang):Built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750), the Hall of Happiness in Longevity originally had two floors. Burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in the 10th year of Emperor Xianfeng’s reign (1860), it was reconstructed in the 12th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1886) to serve as the living quarters for Empress Dowager Cixi during her stay in the Summer Palace.
Wenchang Ge (Wenchang Tower):The biggest of the six gate forts（Purple Cloud Tower、Tower of Cloud-Retaining Eaves、Tower of Dawn Light、Tongyun Chengguan、Qianfengcaicui Chengguan、Wenchang Tower）in the Summer Palace garden, the Wenchang Tower was first built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750) and rebuilt under Emperor Guangxu after it was burned down in 1860 by the Anglo-French Allied Forces. A bronze statue of the god, Wenchang, and statues of two followers, the celestial boy, and the bronze steed, were placed in the two-storey pavilion. This tower pairs up with the Tower of Cloud-Retaining Eaves, located on the west bank of Kunming Lake, in which a statue of the Martial God was placed. The twin towers symbolize the support by both scholars and warriors to the ruling emperor.
Wind of Virtue (Yangren Feng):Originally built in the reign of Emperor Qianlong, this hall is shaped as if it were a folding fan. The ribs of the fan are the steps in front of the hall, which are made from stone slates; its axis is white marble. Hence the folk name “Hall of the Fan Blade”. Its official name “Wind of Virtue” comes from a story in the Biography of Yuan Hong, Book of the Jin Dynasty. When Yuan Hong was leaving to take up his new post as governor of Dongyang, Xie An, Prime Minister at the time, presented him with a fan. Upon accepting the gift, Yuan replied: “I will fan the wind of virtue to comfort the common people”, indicating that he would make good policies to appease the common people.
Yongshou Zhai (Longevity Chamber):During the reign of Emperor Guangxu, this chamber, along with the courtyard, was built adjacent to the Empress Dowager’s sleeping quarters, the “Hall of Happiness in Longevity”. Popularly known as “the Chief’s Courtyard”, it served as the living quarters for Li Lianying, chief of the court eunuchs at the end of the Qing Dynasty. Li is trusted eunuch of Empress Dowager Cixi, his building is most magnificent.