Beihai Park

Beihai ParkBeihai lake is one of the most popular parks in the city of Beijing. It covers a total area of over 68 hectares, more than half of it is taken up by the lake. Early in the 10th century, the Liao Dynasty built a secondary imperial residence here, called Yaoyu or Jade Islet When the Jin took over, they renamed the capital Zhongdu, meaning Central Capital, and built an imperial palace. Qionghua (Jade Flowery) Islet was built of earth dug out from the lake, and the rocks used for piling on the hill were brought from Kaifeng, Henan Province. During the Yuan Dynasty, the place was rebuilt three times, and Guanghandian or the Palace in the Moon where KublaiKhan used to live and many other palace buildings were built on top of the hill. It was in this palace that Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. Unfortunately it was destroyed. The Islet became the centre of Dadu (Great Capital) and is still situated in the heart of modern Beijing.

Beijing Beihai lake is called "north sea." It is 68 hectares in area, with an average depth of 2 metres. The water comes from the Jade Spring Hill and Yongding River, northwest of the city. Boating and fishing are popular here in spring, summer and autumn,and people come here to skate in winter.

The Ming Dynasty saw more construction and renovation: the Five Dragon Pavilions and the Nine-Dragon Screen on the north bank of the lake and many pavilions and galleries were erected during that period. From the White Dagoba, visitors can have an excellent view of the Five Dragon Pavilions standing on the opposite bank of the lake, with colourful ferry boats travelling back and forth between the shores. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, construction -lasted for30 years. The project included many other pavilions, halls and terraces which made the park even more harmonious in design.

The layout of Beihai lake is based on an ancient Chinese legend. According to the legend, there were supposed to be three islands to the east of Bohai Bay where the gods lived. One of them was called Penglai Island where a kind of herbal medicine grew, that was supposed to prolong life. The first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty wanted to live forever. He sent people to the islands to look for the longevity medicine, but failed. Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty also wanted to live an eternal life. He ordered that a big pool be dug at the back of his palace, complete with three artificial hills to represent Panglai and the other islands. So these legendary hills were built in the eastern capital of Luoyang during the Sui Dynasty and also in the Tang Dynasty capital of Chang'an. Such a traditional style of gardening was followed during the succeeding dynasties and Beihai Park was built after this traditional style.

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