Summer Palace

-- Longevity Hill --

A side view of the Four Oceans complex on the Longevity Hill Without mountains and water, a landscape is not perfect in the eyes of the Chinese. So the Summer Palace has not only a lake but a hill. About half way down the Long Gallery, you will see an archway and a series of splendid halls and towers along an axis leading uphill. You can start to climb Longevity Hill from here. The structures you come across are Cloud Dispelling Gate (Paiyunmen) and then Second Palace Gate (Ergongmen) and Cloud dispelling Hall (Paiyundian). Paiyundian is the most important hall there since it was used by the Empress Dowager for her birthday celebrations. Now the objects on display in the hall are gifts from high officials on her 70th birthday in 1905, and a large oil-painting of Cixi was presented to her by the American painter Hubert Vos on her 71st birthday.

Further to the north is Hall of Moral Brilliance (Dehuidian), and behind it on a huge stone plinth is Tower of Buddhist Incense (Foxiangge).

Nearly on top of the hill is a glazed-tile tower which is known as Sea of Wisdom (Zhihuihai). There are countless little statues of Buddha in the niches of its greenish-yellow ceramic facade.

There are other halls and towers on the hill, such as Repository of Sutras (Zhuanlunzang) to the east, Pentagonal Pavilion (Wufangge) and Precious Cloud Pavilion (Baoyunge) which is made entirely of bronze. Further to the west is Hall for Listening to the Orioles (Tingliguan), a former theatre now converted into a restaurant.

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