The Xiangshan (Fragrant Hill) Park is found on the eastern side of the western hills 20 kilometers from downtown. Trees heap up rich piles of foliage in this place of rural repose and sheltered quiet, skirted on three sides by mountains and crisscrossed by running streams. During the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, mansions and gardens were built for emperors on their outings. In 1745, or the 10th year of the Qianlong Reign of the Qing Dynasty, a total of 28 scenes of captivating beauty were built behind a surrounding wall covered with tiger-hide patterns. This was none other than the Park of Tranquility and Appropriateness, one of Beijing's "Three Hills and Five Gardens". Most of the buildings in this picturesque park, however, were damaged during invasions by the Anglo-French Allied Army in 1860 and the Eight-Powered Allied Force in 1900. After the founding of New China, the place was refurbished, renamed Xiangshan Park, and opened to the public. Though few ancient buildings have survived to this day in this park, there is still no lack of places of historical and cultural interest, such as the Pavilion of Introspection, the Luminous Temple and the Shuangqing Villa.
With its majestic natural scenery, Xiangshan is loved by urban people as a forest park. The scenery is beautiful all four seasons. In spring, birds sing and flowers give forth fragrance; in summer, the entire park tucks away in the cool of verdant trees; in autumn, red leaves dyed the hill crimson; and in winter the park puts on a snow mantle. The park looks its seasonal best in September and October, when the sky is high and the air brisk and the entire hill is covered with red leaves.
Mountaineers arrive in big droves. Gurgling streams, sheer cliffs, venerated pines and cypresses - these form a picturesque scene that changes with the shifting of the visitor's footsteps. The Xianglu Peak is the park's highest point at 557 meters above sea level. Though it is not very tall by all standards, it looks precarious due to the plunging ravines on both sides. For this the peak is known as "Ghost Worrying Peak". Despite its frightening name the peak provides a vast vista, where, on a fine day one can see as far as downtown Beijing. For the convenience of the visitors, a cable way has been built between the entrance at the northern gate to the summit of the Xianglu Peak.
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