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Qianlong Garden in Former Imperial Palace

Apart from the Imperial Garden, the Former Imperial Palace is also in the possession of some other imperial gardens build during different periods. These include the Garden of the Hall for the Consolation of Mothers, the Garden for Building Up Reserves and the Garden of the Hall of Peace and Longevity. Most famous of this is the Garden of the Palace of Peace and Longevity, also known us the Qianlong Garden.

The Qianlong Garden is situated to the northwest of the Palace of Peace and Longevity in the eastern section of the Former Imperial Palace. Construction of it began in 1772, or the 37th year of the Qianlong Reign, and did not finish until the 41st year. When Emperor Qianlong abdicated in favor of his son at the end of his 60-year reign, he had the Palace of Peace and Longevity and a garden built for his evening years. That is why the garden is known as the Qianlong Garden.

The garden is 160 meters long from north to south and 37 meters wide from east to west, and occupies an area of 5,920 square meters. The Qianlong Garden is unique among Chinese garden buildings. Despite its limited space, the garden provides a kaleidoscopic view. Rocks are piled up into hills in the tradition of the lower Yangtze valley, and winding paths form a maze. There are mystic caves, and towering pavilions as well. All these man-made scenes are knit into a harmonious whole, so that space is maximized and every scenery has a role to play in beautifying the garden. In a solemn and somewhat rigid environment, this garden looks especially lively and tranquil. Two hundred years later today, it is still being lauded as a fine example of Chinese garden culture.

Major structures in this garden include the Pavilion of Ancient Glory, the Pavilion for Bestowing Wine, the Pavilion of Excellent Views, the Palace of Nostalgia, the Green Shell Pavilion, and the Tower of Elusive Dreams. The structures are in four groups. The Green Shell Pavilion, the Pavilion of Excellent Views and the Tower of Elusive Dreams are arranged on the same axial line. The contracting method is used in utilizing the space. With the Palace of Nostalgia as the boundary the garden is divided in two courtyards roughly of the same size but looking totally different. One was open and the structures were arranged in a strict manner, while the other is a world of mountain rocks crisscrossed by a labyrinth of winding paths. This is a fine example of contrasts ingeniously used in the construction of a classical garden.

The Qianlong Garden is open to the public along with the Hall of Treasures. While you aah and ooh about the Former Imperial Palace's vast horde of treasures, don't forget to take a walk in the Qianlong Garden.

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