Shiqi Kong Qiao (Seventeen-Arch Bridge):Built in the 15th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1750), this 150-meter bridge links the east bank and the South Lake Island. It is the longest bridge in any Chinese imperial garden and was named for its seventeen arches. Over 500 stone lions in different poses are carved on the posts of the bridge’s railings. At both ends of the bridge are carved four strange animals. Strong and powerful, they are outstanding evidence of Qing stone carving.
Bronze Ox (Tongniu):Cast in the 20th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), this statue was also called the “Golden Ox”. Crouching on the carved stone base, the bronze ox has a lifelike bearing. It is said that the bronze ox was positioned here to keep the floods down. Inscribed on the back of the ox is an ode of eighty words entitled “Inscriptions on the Golden Ox”. It was written by Emperor Qianlong in a traditional style of Chinese calligraphy known as seal characters.
Nanhu Dao (South Lake Island):Situated in the center of the lake, the island is connected to the Spacious Pavilion on the east bank by the Seventeen-Arch Bridge. The island, the bridge and the pavilion combine to form an integrated architecture that echoes the Longevity Hill from a distance. The scenic spots which stand on the island include the Hall of Embracing the Universe, the Dragon King Temple, the Hall of Foresight, the Tower of Moonlit Ripples and the Chamber of Heartfelt Contentment.
Jingming Lou (Pavilion of Bright Scenery):Originally built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the structure of the pavilion was a copy of a painting “A Picture of Enjoying the Cool under the Lotus Pavilion”, painted by Zhao Mengfu(1254-1322), a well-known artist in the Yuan Dynasty. The pavilion got its name from a line in a famous verse entitled A Note on the Yueyang Tower by Fan Zhongyan(989-1052), who wrote: “The Spring is peaceful and the scenery is bright, the billows are asleep.” Burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, it was rebuilt in 1992.
Kuoru Ting (Spacious Pavilion):Covering an area of over 130 square meters, this is the most spacious pavilion of its type. When the Summer Palace was named the Garden of Clear Ripples, there was no wall on the east bank, so one could see far and wide from all four sides of the pavilion. Thus, it was named the “Spacious Pavilion”. Built in an octahedral style with double eaves, it was also called the “Pavilion of Eight Dimensions”. Emperor Qianlong’s poems and classical writings are inscribed on a board hanging inside the pavilion.
Hanxu Tang (Hall of Embracing the Universe):Originally a three-storey building named “Hall of Watching the Moon Toad” which was completed in Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the hall was rebuilt with just one floor during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing. It became a wonderful place for emperors and empresses to enjoy the moonlight during summer and autumn evenings. Emperor Qianlong used to sit here to watch displays performed by the naval regiment, the Tough and Sharp Troops of the Fragrant Hills. Burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, the hall was rebuilt during Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1875-1908). The Empress Dowager also used to sit here to enjoy displays given by the naval academy.
Xidi (West Causeway):The West Causeway is modeled on the Su Causeway of the West Lake in Hangzhou. From north to south, the causeway is connected by six bridges, each unique in style: the Lake-Dividing Bridge, the Bridge of Pastoral Poems, the Jade Belt Bridge, the Mirror Bridge, the Silk Bridge and the Willow Bridge. Between the Silk Bridge and the Willow Bridge is the Pavilion of Bright Scenery. It was named after the essay, On the Yueyang Tower, a famous piece by Fan Zhongyan, a well-known writer of the Song Dynasty. He wrote, “the spring is peaceful and the scenery bright; the waves are asleep”. Peach and willow trees were planted on the causeway so that when spring came, the green of the willow trees and the red of the peach blossoms would combine to recreate the scenery of south China.
Jiehu Qiao (Lake-Dividing Bridge):Originally built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), this bridge used to have on it a pavilion, which was destroyed in the 1860 fire set by the Anglo-French Allied Forces. Its position, dividing the inner lake from the outer lake, gave the bridge its name.
Binfeng Qiao (Bridge of Pastoral Poems):This bridge was originally named the Mulberry and Ramie Bridge while the Summer Palace was still the Garden of Clear Ripples. As the Chinese pronunciation of this name sounds similar to the name of Emperor Xianfeng, the bridge’s name had to be changed to avoid an Imperial Court taboo.
The present name was borrowed from the title of an old folksong from the Book of Poems, the first songbook in China. The folksong depicted the agricultural life of peasants in ancient China and was entitled “The Pastoral Poem”. Both names were supposed to demonstrate the great attention that emperors paid to agriculture.
Yudai Qiao (Jade Belt Bridge):Built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), this high and thin bridge was named Jade Belt Bridge because its body and railings are made of gray white or white marbles which combine to resemble a jade belt. Under the bridge, the Kunming Lake inlet led to Yu River. When the emperors and empresses went by boat from the Garden of Clear Ripples to Jade Spring Hills, they would pass under this bridge.
Jing Qiao (Mirror Bridge):Originally built under Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795) and rebuilt during Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1875-1908), this bridge got its name from a line in a poem by Li Bai (701-762), a great poet of the Tang Dynasty, who wrote: “A bright mirror between two waters, a rainbow falls over the two bridges”.
Lian Qiao (Silk Bridge):Originally built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), this bridge was rebuilt under Emperor Guangxu. A four-sided pavilion with double eaves was built on the bridge to facilitate sightseeing and provide a resting place.
Liu Qiao (Willow Bridge):Originally built under Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795) and rebuilt during Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1875-1908), this bridge got its name from a line in a poem, “the day is fine and there comes the willow catkins at the Willow Bridge.”
Guangrun Lingyu Ci
(Temple of Timely Rains and Extensive Moisture):This temple, built on the east bank of the West Lake, used to be known as the Dragon God Temple but was popularly referred to as the Dragon King Temple. When the lake was expanded during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the temple and its surrounding land were spared to form a new island, which was named the “South Lake Island”. The Dragon God Temple was reconstructed as a place to pray for rain, and renamed Temple of Extensive Moisture. Since praying proved effective, Emperor Qianlong personally rewrote the inscriptions, giving the temple its present name. During the reign of Emperor Guangxu, Empress Dowager Cixi would often land at the dock in front of the temple when she came to the Summer Palace. She would burn incense in the temple before heading by boat to the Hall of Happiness in Longevity.
Kunming Hu (Kunming Lake):Kunming Lake, once a natural lake where numerous mountain springs in the northwest of Beijing converged, was previously known as Great Lake, Jar Hill Lake, etc. After Beijing became the capital city of the Yuan Dynasty, Guo Shoujing, an expert in irrigation works at the time, supervised the redirection of the spring water from the Divine Mountains in Changping, to the lake. The spring water, drawing in the tributary waters along the way, made the lake into a reservoir that greatly facilitated the transportation of grain. During the Ming Dynasty, a large number of lotus flowers were planted in the lake. In the surrounding area were rice paddies, temples, pavilions and other finely built structures, creating a great view that resembled the landscape of south China. For this reason it became known as the West Lake, after its namesake in the southern city of Hangzhou. With construction of the Garden of Clear Ripples during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the lake was expanded to its current size. Emperor Qianlong then named it “Kunming”, inspired by Emperor Liuche of the Han Dynasty, who once constructed an artificial lake called the “Kunming Pool” to practise battles on the water. The current lake covers an area of over 200 hectares, making up three quarters of the whole garden. In accordance with the “three islands in one pool” principle for the design of water features in imperial gardens, three islands were built on the lake, namely, the “South Lake Island”, the “Mirror of Government Tower” and the “Hall of Recognition of Talent Island”. The West Causeway, imitating the Su Causeway of the West Lake in Hangzhou, was also constructed. The glistening waters, the meandering banks, well-arranged islands, and a host of architectural structures in different styles, both near and far, all combine to present a wonderful view of the Summer Palace landscape, a view dominated by Kunming Lake. Scientific research in the 1990s showed that the lake dates back over 3,500 years.
Changguan Tang (Hall of Good Sight):Originally built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795) and burned down by the Anglo-French Allied Forces, this hall was rebuilt during Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1875-1908). The main structure consists of seven bays. A side hall and a small pavilion stood to each side of the main structure. Built so high up and in such a cool place with the surrounding area so very quiet, the hall provided a good vantage point from which Emperor Qianlong could watch farmers working in the fields outside the Summer Palace.
Erkong Zha (Double Culvert Water Gate):This water gate was originally built during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795). After the emperor had the Kunming Lake expanded, there were eight outlets in the lake which supplied water to the surrounding rice paddies, as well as to the other imperial gardens nearby. The Double Culvert Water Gate was one such outlet. The original gate has been preserved and is popularly referred to as “Double Dragon Gate”.
Kunlun Shi (Kunlun Stone):This stone was erected during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. It was inscribed with a poem written by Emperor Qianlong, which depicts the historical changes of the East Bank. The East Bank of Kunming Lake was once the protective bank for Changchun Garden, one of the well known “three hills and five gardens” in the western suburbs of Beijing. Therefore, a line of the poem says: “Now the west bank becomes the east bank, and the origin of names and substances can all be ascertained.”
Kunlun Shi (Kunlun Stone):Erected during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the inscription on this stone stele is the reproduction of a poem written by Emperor Qianlong. The poem depicts the changing scenery of the long river banks which he enjoyed so much when he came to the garden by boat.