The Beihai (North Sea) Park is located in downtown Beijing, about 500 meters northwest of the Forbidden City and Jingshan Hill, which is one of the earliest and best-preserved imperial gardens in the country.
The park was initially built in the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and was repaired and rebuilt in the following dynasties including Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing (1115-1911). Large-scale rebuilding in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) established the present scale and pattern of Beihai Park. In 1925, the park was first opened to the public, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world every year.
The park is vast in its water surface, which accounts for a half of the park's total area of 0.71 sq km (about 0.27 sq miles). In the Ming Dynasty, Beihai (North Sea), Zhonghai (Central Sea) and Nanhai (South Sea) were named as Three Seas or Taiye Lake, which was the forbidden garden. At the beginning of the Republic of China, Zhonghai and Nanhai were merged into an integral whole called, Zhongnanhai (Central and South Sea). Behai was separately built as a park.
In the middle of the lake and on the central axis of the whole park lies the Jade Flowery Islet, topped by the imposing White Dagoba, which is a landmark. Besides the Jade Flowery Islet, the park has four main scenic areas: the Eastern Shore Area, Northern Shore Area, Botanical Garden and Circular City near the north gate. There are many famous and beautiful places you should not miss when touring the park.
|White Pagoda in Beihai Park, Beijing.|
On top of the Jade Flowery Islet, the White Pagoda was built in 1651 on the former site of the Palace in the Moon where Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. At the suggestion of a famous Tibetan lama, Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty agreed to build a Tibetan pagoda to show his belief in Buddhism and his desire for the unification of Chinese ethnic groups.
Hao Pu Creek (Haopujian) Garden
After touring the Qionghua Islet, you can cross the Zhishan Bridge to the Eastern Shore Scenic Area, which has many independent gardens, such as the Painted Boat (Huafang) Studio and the Hao Pu Creek Garden. Created in 1757, the Hao Pu Creek Garden is one of the best gardens-within-gardens of the existing imperial gardens in the nation.
Quiet Heart (Jingxin) Studio
After visiting the Eastern Shore Area, stepping westward, you will be at the Northern Shore Area. Lying to the east, Quiet Heart Studio is the most famous independent garden in the park. It was initially built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and enlarged in the Qing Dynasty. Inside the studio, there are many magnificent palaces, halls, pavilions, towers, corridors and artificial hills, numerous odd-shaped porous rocks and stones, all artistically arranged.
To the northwest lies the well-known Nine-Dragon Screen, which is the only screen having nine huge dragons on both sides among the most famous three Nine-Dragon Screens in China (the other two are in the Forbidden City and Datong, Shanxi Province). Built in 1756, the Nine-Dragon Screen is about 27 meters long, 6.65 meters high and 1.42 meters thick, which is composed of 424 seven-color glazed tiles that emboss the screen. Nine huge coiling dragons on each side of the screen and big or small dragons in different postures decorate the two ends and the eaves to make635 dragons.
Southwest of the Nine-Dragon Screen lay the Five-Dragon Pavilions - five connected pavilions with spires and pointed upswept eaves. From a distance, they appear together like a huge dragon. Built first in 1602 and repaired several times in the Qing Dynasty, with five pavilions, half over the water, stand on the north bank of the lake opposite the Jade Flowery Islet. Many exquisite carvings and paintings on girders and pillars of pavilions make the Five-Dragon Pavilions a delightful place for royal members in ancient China to relax and appreciate the natural beauty.
You can visit the Circular City right at the southwestern corner of Beihai Park. The city wall stands about 4.6 meters (about 15 feet) high and has a circumference of 276 meters (about 906 feet). Places to visit include halls, towers and pavilions, the most important construction is the Chengguang Hall, which holds the precious white jade statue of Buddha introduced from Burma at the end of the Qing Dynasty.
Address: Northwest of the Forbidden City, Xicheng district
Tel: +86 10 6403 1102
Open: 6:30 am-8 pm (November-March)
6 am-9 pm (April, May, September and October)
6 am-22 pm (June August)
Admission: 10 yuan (April 1-October 31); 5 yuan (November 1-March 31)
Traffic: Bus Nos 101, 103, 105, 107, 109, 11l and 118