Zhongshan Park

Zhongshan ParkCovering an area of 24 hectares (60 acres), Zhongshan Park lies west of Tian’anmen Gate. About a thousand years ago, this park used to be the site of Xingguosi (Temple of National Revival) in the northeastern part of the city of Yanjing (Yan Capital, the old name of Beijing) during the Liao and Jin dynasties (916-1234). The original buildings vanished long ago, but some of the ancient cypresses still survive. During the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1403 – 1424), when Beijing was made the capital in 1420, the Taimiao (Imperial Ancestral Temple) and the Shejitan (Altar of Land and Grain) were built. The altar was erected in 1421. In 1914, it was converted into the Central Park, and in 1928 it got its present name: Zhongshan Park, in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Since 1949, it has greatly improved both in natural beauty and in recreational facilities.

Zhongshan Park is permeated by a peaceful atmosphere. Behind the colourful flower “vase” stands a memorial arch of white marble with the inscription “Defend Peace.

This is a huge, artful and intricate rock lying behind the marble archway at the end of a pine-shaded path. It was transferred from the ruins of Yuanmingyuan (Park of Perfection and Light). From here to the north of an area of flower beds, a grove of ancient cypresses pro-vides an extraordinary view. Seven of these trees are particularly large; each would need four persons to encircle with their arms out-stretched full length. They are believed to be about a thousand years old.  Behind the grove and before entering into Shejitan, a pair of statues of sitting lions, carved in stone, lie a heroic manner. They were discovered in 1918 in the ruins of an ancient temple in Taming County, Hebei Province. Entering the altar by its south gate, the perspective immediately becomes different and enchanting. To the east is the Mu-sic Hall, now rebuilt into an amphitheatre with round pillars. Here many well-known and popular dramas are often presented and concerts are frequently held. Shrubs, peony beds and well-kept lawns are everywhere.

East of the altar is a very quiet section containing pavilions, rockeries, unique rocks, a tea-house and a restaurant.

Going westward along a covered corridor from the south gate of the park, the tourist can reach the goldfish breeding ground, where many rare species of the fish are kept. Further on is the quietest spot in the park area, where a rich variety of pavilions, bridges, rocky hills, flowers, and trees are artfully laid out, centering around a lotus pond. The Water Pavilion, built over water on three sides, is now used for exhibitions of various kinds. Proceeding northward from here the tourist comes to Lantingbeiting (Pavilion of the Orchard Pavilion Steles). To the east is the Tanghuawu (Tang Flower Village), a hot-house where many rare flowers and plants such as the canna lily, or-chid, and lemon trees are displayed all the year round. Further east lies the Xiliting (Pavilion for Rehearsing Rites). This was formerly the Honglusi (Office of Rites) in the Ming and Qing dynasties which moved from Pingpu Street to the present location. Here, officials who were for the first time received by the Emperor rehearsed the rites be-fore their audience took place.

The western section of the park is the busiest. Here, in the midst of the cypress grove, are many pavilions and artificial rockeries, as well as a hall of entertainment and a ground for riding on an electric horse. In the cypress grove itself, colourful lights are hung, under which the tourist may drink tea, listen to music, play chess or simply chat on summer evenings.

Zhongshan Park is also well-known for its great variety of flowers and. goldfish, ancient halls and cypresses, the charming pavilions, summerhouses and grotesque rock gardens. The park attracts millions of visitors each year.

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