The history of the Summer Palace starts with the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234 AD) when the Golden Hill Palace was built on the present site that’s a tourist attraction.
The Summer Palace that exists today dates back to Kublai Khan (Yuan Dynasty: 1277-1367), but I took these photographs in 2008—I’m not that old yet.
In 1750, Emperor Qian Long (Ch’ing Dynasty: 1644 -1911 AD) had canals built from the Forbidden City to Kunming Lake, which was enlarged to serve as a reservoir for Beijing and is still in use today. He also built palaces on the hill to celebrate his mother’s birthday.
In 1860, during the Second Opium War, a combined British-French military force invaded Beijing and destroyed many of the buildings. Twenty-eight years later, the Dowager Empress Ci Xi’s brother-in-law rebuilt and expanded the palaces using money—when he was the leader of China’s the navy—meant to modernize China’s navy.
After the Ch’ing Dynasty was swept aside during the 1911 rebellion, this new Summer Palace was opened to the public. In 1990, the Summer Palace was designated a world heritage site by the United Nations.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves.
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