Summer Palace

-- Hall of Joyful Longevity --

A luxurious residential house of Empress Dowager Cixi The halls behind the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity are a residential area consisting of three large courtyards connected by a winding gallery, in which Hall of Joyful Longevity is the residence of Empress Dowager Cixi as well as the main structure of this area.

Burned down by the Anglo-French allied forces, the hall was rebuilt by Cixi in 1889. From then on, she lived there from April to October every year during the rest of her lifetime.

The hall is divided into four sections. The east inner room was her dressing room while the east outer room was the place where Cixi have her breakfast and tea. The west inner room was her bedroom and the west outer room was the place where she handled state affairs and signed documents.

In the center of the hall is a large table where Empress Dowager Cixi used to have her meals. For each meal, about 128 courses, over 50 kinds of staple food and 30 kinds of porridge were served. Synchronously, about 128 eunuchs, cooks and tea servants preparing to satisfy her every wish at all hours. It was said that the money spent on a single meal would have been enough to 5000 people for a day.

Four incense burners were placed in every corner, modulating the air in the hall.

Hall of Joyful Longevity is the first place in China to use electric light.

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