Posted by: Waheeda Harris | June 13, 2014

City to country: The Summer Palace


The immense Forbidden City was an eye-catching place to visit. But the Summer Palace is an equally worthy visit – especially since it was expanded by Empress Dowager Cixi, who diverted imperial funds to make it even bigger.

Combining Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, the entrance doesn’t quite reveal the extent of the palace:

China - Summer Palace entry

China - Summer Palace entry b

As you walk up towards Longevity Hill, the scale of the palace is bigger than I realized. Its a grand place, worthy of monarchy, especially the Empress, to insure the right degree of servitude upon entering.

China - Summer Palace Longevity Hill top

Climbing the last stairs to this top point of the hill on the one side was definitely a challenge. But these small buildings were a cool respite in the heat, and the next series of buildings contained some amazing interiors, including an amazing Buddha:

China - SP buddha

And then it was down Longevity Hill on the other side to the edge of Kunming Lake, and seeing the additions to the palace courtesy of the Dowager Empress Cixi – like the two kilometre long hand-painted covered walkway, and the marble boat:


And then the next series of buildings along the lake:

The Summer Palace is a surprisingly serene place – the sound of birds is the loudest sound, despite the numerous visitors, including plenty of students. And walking the lake’s edge is farther than I thought – but worth the effort. Especially when I realized I could take a boat back to the base of Longevity Hill:

China - Summer Palace dragon boat

Despite the crazy temperatures and as you can see, polluted air, the Summer Palace was breathtaking. Filled with amazing buildings, temples and an art gallery, its a place to spend the morning or afternoon, imagining this as the idyllic summer home.


  1. Wow, this looks like an incredibly serene place! Making a note for when I visit China!

    • Lovely spot – but way bigger than I anticipated!

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