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Jingshan Park

The 23.3-hectare Jingshan Park of the Prospect Hill, is found opposite the northern gate of the Former Imperial Palace and on the axial line of the city of Beijing. The park used to be an imperial garden for feudal monarchs of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The hill was built in 1421 by piling up earth work from digging the moat for the imperial city. In 1750, or the 15th year of the Qianlong reign, five glaze-tiled pavilions were built atop the hill, behind which a number of palaces were also added. Fruit trees were planted all over the hill slopes, so that the entire park is tucked away in the shade of towering pines and cypresses.

The pavilions are laid out on square plans, and topped with pyramid roofs with four upturned corners and three eaves. The one in the middle, the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Spring Seasons, is the largest, and at a height of 43 meters used to be the tallest point in old Beijing. Flanking the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Spring Seasons to the east are the Pavilion for Enjoying the Scenery and the Pavilion for Enjoying the Peripheral View, and to the west are the Pavilion of Gathered Fragrance and Pavilion of Panoramic View. These five pavilions sit high on the Jinshan Hill and are arranged symmetrically with the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Spring Seasons in the center. Observed from the perspective of the Former Imperial Palace, the forms of the five pavilions gleam in the midst of rich verdure in a most fascinating manner.

The park is indispensable for a panoramic view of the Former Imperial Garden. Sitting in the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Spring Seasons, no one can fail to see the ocean of palaces in the Forbidden City, and as one trains his eye along the city's axial line which extends for eight kilometers in either direction, Beijing looks at once ancient and new, a city bustling with vitality. Jinshan Park is the best vantage point for taking a bird's-eye view of Beijing.

The sitting right behind the front gate, was where emperors paid homage to the tablet in memory of Confucius. On the slope of Jinshan Hill there used to be a tree on which the last Ming emperor, Chongzhen, hanged himself in desperation. The original tree is no more. The one now growing on the spot was planted in 1981. In spring and autumn visitors go to the Jingshan Park in droves to marvel at shows of flowers and miniature landscapes.

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