Summer Palace

-- Garden of Harmonious Interests --



Deeply admired the architectural art of Jichangyuan Garden in Wuxi, Emperor Qianlong built a similar garden - Garden of Harmonious Interests in Summer Palace. Located on the eastern part of Rear Hill, the garden was built in imitation of Jichangyuan Garden in Wuxi during the reign of Emperor Qianlong. Emperor Qianlong once went to South China for inspections and resided there for several times. Deeply admired the architectural art of the garden, he decided to built a similar garden in the Summer Palace. When it was first built in 1751, it was named Huishan Garden. In 1881, after a large-scale restoration, Emperor Jiaqing of the Qing dynasty rename it the Garden of Harmonious Interests. In 1860, the garden was burned down by Anglo-French allied forces and in 1892 reconstructed by the order of Empress Dowager Cixi.

As a typical garden of southern China, it has five halls, seven pavilions, several corridors and five small bridges on a lotus pond.

In the center of the garden is a pond, which, with an area of half an acre, is covered with lotus and surrounded by a covered gallery connecting towers and pavilions. In the center of the pond, a pavilion rises out of the water, which used to be the fishing place of Empress Dowager Cixi. When Cixi lived in the Summer Palace, one of her favorites was fishing. In order to please the bad-tempered and impatient lady, each time, those devoted eunuchs would dived into the water and put live fish on her hook. Hence, whenever she fished, she could get a lot of fish.

Emperor Qianlong once wrote a poem to the garden, which says: "a pavilion a path, a pace a scene, the scene changes with each pace, and each pace is of great interests". The interests of the garden lie in the following items:

In this charming garden, the scene changes with each pace, and each pace is of great interests. Interest of Seasons

The scene varies with the change of the seasons. In spring, water in the pond is as smooth as a mirror with the weeping willows waving in the breeze; in summer, blossoming lotuses fill the pond, giving out a pleasant smell; in autumn, the pavilion and weeping willows are reflected in the water and in winter, when snow falls, all the pavilions, corridors and willows are all covered with snow.



Interest of Water

The water in the pond originates from the Back Lake in Summer Palace through the bamboo groves. Owing to the fall between the Back Lake and the pond, the "Jade Violin Gorge", which was a copy of the "Eight-Sound Brook" in Jichangyuan Garden in Wuxi, creates a melodious sound effect in this garden.

Interest of Bridge

There are totally five small bridges in different styles in this garden. Some of them face the water and some connect with the paths. The most famous one is Know-the-Fish Bridge. It was known for an argument between two philosophers, Zhuang Zi and Hui Zi, about 2,500 years ago.

Zhuang Zi claimed: "look, what happy fish!"

No matter seen from what aspect, this garden is of great charm Hui Zi asked: "You are not a fish, how do you know they are happy?"

Zhuang Zi retorted: "You are not me, how do you know I do not know?"

Interest of Calligraphy

There are many masterpieces of calligraphy, in the form of poems and couplets, can be seen almost everywhere in the garden. Some are said to be written by Emperor Qianlong.

Interest of Pavilion

In the northwest corner of the garden there is a new building. Looking from outside the garden, visitor can see a one-storied structure stands in the distance. But when looked from inside the garden, it is two storeys. The difference in distance and height creates a different effect.


Detail of an architecture of the Four Oceans on the Longevity Hill Interest of Painting

Within the gardens are hundreds of paintings in various styles. Some of them are flowers and sceneries and some are devoted to figures and historical events.

Interest of Corridor

Corridors of different styles connect the pavilions, bridges, halls and pond in this garden. They have so many twists and turns, which give convenience to visitors to view the scenery in different aspects.

Interest of Imitation

Jichangyuan Garden used to be a famous private garden in South China while the Garden of Harmonious Interests was an imperial garden in North China. New creation was made in imitation without betraying the original designs. The Garden of Harmonious Interests originated from the Jichangyuan Garden, but has exceeded it.




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