Gongwangfu, a Prince’s Palace and Garden in Beijing worth seeing

I took these photos in Prince Kung’s (1833-1898) palace and garden (once called Gongwangfu). This palace is in Beijing’s Beihai district. Prince Kung was Emperor Hsein Feng’s (1831-1861) younger brother.

As Inspector General for the Emperor of China, Robert Hart, known as the Godfather of China’s modernism, lived in the same hutong that Prince Kung lived in. Robert Hart, the main character in My Splendid Concubine, often met Prince Kung in this garden.

After 1950, for several decades, the palace and garden became a communal home for many Chinese. In recent years, the garden, considered one of the best in China, was renovated and is now a tourist attraction, which attracts thousands of visitors daily. Tiananmen Square, Mao’s Mausoleum, and the Forbidden City are all within walking distance.

To design a proper Chinese garden one must build a big place in a small space.  Prince Kung’s garden and estate is surrounded by a high wall and outside is Beijing.

Once inside, it is easy to forget that outside the walls is a crowded city. It was also easy for the Qing (Manchu) royals to forget about what was happening throughout China.

______________________________

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.

2015 Promotion Image for My Splendid Concubine

Subscribe to “iLook China”!
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page, or click on the “Following” tab in the WordPress toolbar at the top of the screen.

About iLook China

China’s Holistic Historical Timeline

Advertisements

3 Responses to Gongwangfu, a Prince’s Palace and Garden in Beijing worth seeing

  1. Isham Cook says:

    Lloyd, Just so happens I know this area pretty well. I had my first visit to Prince Gong’s palace in 1994. They were already accepting tourists as part of a hutong tour, which culminated in a short Peking Opera performance in the gorgeous little opera theater in one of the palace’s buildings. The palace now sits at the northwest corner of the little West Lake, which is the westernmost of the 6 interconnected lakes that wind all the way down to Zhongnanhai where the country’s leaders live. The palace is just around the corner of the Jishuitan subway stop. The former Jishui Lake (now the West Lake) was once huge during the Imperial Days, as it supplied a large port for goods transported to the Forbidden City via a system of moats. I discuss these moats and canals in my blog post “The poverty of the institutional imagination: The case of Beijing’s moats and canals” (http://ishamcook.com/2012/07/25/the-poverty-of-the-institutional-imagination-the-case-of-beijings-moats-and-canals/).

    • Thanks for sharing. I knew the Forbidden City was connected to the lake next to the Summer Palace, but I didn’t know how extensive the canal system was in Beijing until now.

  2. Spectacular! The posts are interesting. They appear to be constructed of bamboo interlaced together. That looks pretty innovative to me.

Comments are welcome — pro or con. However, comments must focus on the topic of the post, be civil and avoid ad hominem attacks.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: