Hall of the Sea of Wisdom

 Hall of the Sea of WisdomHall of the Sea of Wisdom was completed in 1750, without a single beam or column used in its structure. So, it was also called “no beam hall. Some of the Buddhist figures on its walls were destroyed in 1900 by the allied forces of the eight powers.

  Naval Academy
  In 1885, the Qing Government suffered a defeat at sea by France.
  Three years later, the Kunming Lake Naval Academy was established on the banks of the lake outside the west wall of the present Summer Palace for training navy personnel. Its first enrollment totalled 60 recruits from two firearm battalions of the Eight Banners (the military organization of the Qing Dynasty). The purpose of establishing the Academy by Empress Dowager Cixi was to renovate the Garden of Clear Ripples (presently known as the Summer Palace) which was seriously damaged by the Anglo-French imperialists during the Second Opium War in 1860. Setting up the Naval Academy was a good pretext for Empress Dowager Cixi to raise the funds which were badly needed for her plan. About 10 million ounces of silver -the greater portion of the money-were diverted from the navy’s budget to the reconstruction of the garden. The money used for the rebuilding of the garden would have been enough to buy seven major ships. The Chinese Northern Fleet would then have ranked as one of the largest fleets in the world.

  Instead, all the Kunming Lake Naval Academy had for training was a little steamer, which was also used to pull the imperial excursion boat around the 1ake. Only one batch of cadets graduated from the Academy and most of the graduates were from royal families.
  They played a minor role in the 1894 naval battle between China and Japan.

  Ancient Archways (Pailou)
  Historical records show there were 57 archways in Beijing near the end of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). A lot of these ceremonial archways were built at major crossroads of shopping streets and on long avenues, either. to decorate the location or to mark the long streets. At present, Beijing has more than 40 archways. The names of some areas like Dongsi, Xisi, Dongdan and Xician are derived from the number of archways there. At the beginning of 20th century, there were four archways in the Dongsi area, where the Overseas Chinese Building and the People’s Department Store are now located. Thus the name Dongsi means four archways in the east: Xidan means a single one in the west.

  The archways were erected in front of temples, cemeteries, offices, and in gardens.
  There is a delicately-built stone archway at the end of Know-the-Fish Bridge in the Garden of Harmonious Interest inside the Summer Palace, a favourite summer resort of Empress Dowager Cixi of the late Qing Dynasty.

  Many archways are built of wood. Stone ones are usually in front of tombs and temples, giving a feeling of solemnity and respect. The largest stone archway stands on the way to the Ming Tombs. Built of white marble in 1540, it has five pass ways. The six pillars were carved with qilin (Chinese unicorns), lions, dragons, and other strange animals, all fighting or wriggling in heaven or in the sea.

  In ancient times, some archways were built in memory of loyal ministers, dutiful sons or women who sacrificed themselves for their deceased husbands.

  But there were exceptions. In the 1901 Treaty signed between the Qing Government and the Eight-Power Allied Forces, there was an article ordering that the Chinese Government set up an archway in memory of Ketteler, who was German minister-counsellor. He beat a Chinese passer-by with his stick one day and then dragged the man into the consulate grounds. This incident angered the Chinese people who were already organizing themselves to fight the imperialist invaders. For the foreign diplomats’ safety, the Qing Gov9rnment sent a note, telling the foreign missions to leave Beijing for Tianjin: In defiance of his counterparts in the diplomatic corps, the next day Ketteler drove with his interpreter to the Chinese premier’s residence to lodge a protest against the note. He was killed on his way through the arch-way at Dongdan. The Qing Government submitted to demands of invading foreign forces and erected a marble archway for Ketteler at Dongdan, in addition to an wooden one there. After the First World War (1914-1918), the marble archway was moved to the Zhongshan.(Dr. Sun Yat-sen) Park and was renamed “Gonglizhansheng” meaning “Justice will always prevail.” In 1952, during an Asian-Pacific peace conference, the name of the archway was changed to “Safeguard Peace.” The inscription on it was in late Guo Moruo’s handwriting.

  Among archways, the ones with glazed tiles were viewed as more important. According to the laws of the Qing Dynasty, only the arch-ways that fronted imperial buildings could have glazed tiles. Today, a few glazed-tile archways still remain. There is one in Beihai Park, and in the Imperial Garden in the Forbidden City each.

  In the ancient times, ordinary people were not allowed to run through the passage ways; they had to slow their steps to a respectful walk. By some archways, there were stone slabs where officials had to step down from their horses or carriages. It was only after the Qing Dynasty was overthrown that rickshaw boys could hurry through the archways.

  Archways at the major crossroads have been removed, but arch-ways in front of temples are still considered treasured archways. Most of them were beautifully designed, typical of ancient Beijing architecture.

  The People’s Government has brought all these archways a newlife. Wooden archways haye been repainted, while stone archways repaired.

Leave Us Your Message

  • Please fill in the relevant information and click the "Submit" button. Your private tour operator will get back to you by email within 24 hours. For urgent booking, please call us at +86-10-85893819, or mobile phone +86-13910972927.