After an hour at the Giant Panda Center, we headed to the Summer Palace, the largest Imperial garden in China located ten kilometers to the northwest of Beijing and used to be a summer residence of Qing Dynasty emperors and is now a public park.

Summer Palace is an imperial garden famous for its gorgeous natural scenery and architectural grandeur like pavilions, terraces, temples, pagodas, waterside gazebos, covered corridors, stone bridges etc.

the northern part of the Summer Palace is the 60-meter-tall Longevity Hill
View over Kunming Lake towards Yu Quan Hill with Yu Feng Pagoda

Its southern part is a wide expanse of water called Kunming Lake, a man-made lake that covers approximately three quarters of the Summer Palace grounds. It is fairly shallow with an average depth of only 1.5 meter. Since the lake develops a solid ice cover in winter, it is used for ice-skating. There are different types of boats available for rent such as electric boat, pedal boat and canoe.

Our guide brought us to the Dragon ferryboat for a ride. We lined up with hundreds of other tourists and we waited for several minutes until it was our time to navigate. The boat is long, paved with colored bricks and inlaid with a picturesquely dragon head mounted on the bow.

Dragon ferryboat
Inside the dragon ferryboat

We explored the lake, which is quite large, and next we docked off on another island. Then we walked and passed by the Seventeen-Arch Bridge (Shiqi Kong Qiao), built in 1750 during Emperor Qianlong’s reign, this 150-meter long bridge links the east bank and South Lake Island. It is the longest bridge in any Chinese Imperial garden and was named for its seventeen arches.

Seventeen-Arch Bridge

Over 500 stone lions in different poses were carved on the posts of the bridges railings.

one of the stone lions on the post

Four strange animals were carved at both ends of the bridge; strong and powerful, they are outstanding examples of Qing Dynasty stone carving skills.

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AN ASIAN TRAVELER, Exploring Around Asia!