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Imperial Gardens in Beijing

The term "imperial garden" generally refers to those in which emperors lived and entertained themselves. Apart from the general features of classical Chinese gardens, imperial gardens are also marked by the following five salient features.

(1) The guideline for the design of an imperial garden gives expression to feudal autocracy and reflects the idea that the Son of Heaven is the richest man under heaven.

(2) There is a liberal choice of locations, and the construction of an imperial, garden is backed by abundant resources, so that not only mountains and lakes in their original forms could be incorporated, but lakes could be dug, and mountains constructed, as well, in imitation of natural scenes. Al', sorts of buildings could be constructed, too.

(3) The general layout of an imperial garden was magnificent, the building are beautiful or imposing and perform diverse functions, so that living in his imperial garden the emperor could administer state affairs, take up his lodging, receive tributes, feast his guests, watch theatrical performances, singing and dancing, wushu contests, pay homage to the Buddha, collect books and treasures, observe the crops, and go fishing and hunting. During the Qing Dynasty the emperors even had replicas built of Sravati, where Sakyamuni had lived, and Suzhou Street.

(4) Materials for the construction of gardens were wide ranging, and vast numbers of artisans could be conscripted for this purpose, so that collective wisdom was pooled and the garden, thus constructed were richly varied in form.

(5) Most imperial gardens are situated in the north, and thus susceptive to the northern climatic in so far as architectural tradition, coloration and the planting of vegetation are concerned. Despite keen efforts made to imitate famous gardens in the lower Yangtze valley, these gardens still retain a style unique to the north.

Beijing, the capital of China, is the nation's political, economic and cultural center as well as a center for international communications and exchanges. The city is divided into 18 districts and counties, covering a total area of 16,800 square kilometers and a population of 11 million. Beijing is a world-famous ancient cultural city. Approximately 500,000 years ago the land was teeming with Peking Man. Beijing was established as a city in 1045 BC. For nearly 800 years Beijing was a capital city -- the provisional capital of the Liao Dynasty and the capital of the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

Beijing is known as a famous tourist city of world caliber, where ancient buildings, imperial gardens, temples and monasteries mingle with a cluster of high-rise buildings and gardens and green patches. Beijing's folklore is one of a kind. The city is endowed with a rich cultural heritage and splendid arts. It is changing with each passing day. Transport and communications are well developed. Local airlines link the city with more than 110 cities in the world. Railways and highways form an extensive web of transportation.

Garden culture and horticulture figure prominently in Beijing's tourist attractions. Beijing's imperial gardens are outstanding examples of classical Chinese garden culture; they are also part of the precious world cultural heritage. Among these gardens, the Imperial Garden of the Former Imperial Palace, the Beihai Park, and the Jingshan Park are in downtown; while the Summer Palace, Yuanmingyuan and Xiangshan Park are in the western suburbs. The Mountain Summer Resort of Chengde. 250 kilometers northeast of Beijing, is generally regarded as an extension of Beijing's imperial gardens. A sightseeing tour of Beijing holds forth the fascination of an idyllic appeal.

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