BEIHAI PARK, Tour Part 1

Audio File length: 2.34
English / USA Language: English / USA

Hi, my name’s Jill, and I’m your personal guide. Along with MyWoWo, I’d like to welcome you to one of the Wonders of the World: Beihai Park.

This ancient garden, with a history stretching back over 1000 years, is not only one of the finest imperial gardens in China; it is also the setting for a number of splendid palaces and magnificent temples.

It was built during the Liao dynasty, between 916 and 1125, and was expanded and altered on numerous occasions. For the most important reconstruction, however, we have to thank Emperor Qianlong, who redesigned it as we see it today.  

Opened to the public in 1925, the park covers an area of around 70,000 square meters, over half of which is occupied by a lake. In the center of the lake is Jade Flower Island, dominated by the imposing White Stupa, or Bai Ta, a Buddhist shrine.

Built in 1651 to mark the visit of the 5th Dalai Lama, it was destroyed by an earthquake on two occasions and subsequently rebuilt.

This distinctive Tibetan-style building sits on an enormous stone base. It is 37 meters high and is topped by a dome shaped like an upside-down bowl with a bronze pinnacle surrounded by 14 bronze bells. Inside the building are the Buddhist Scriptures, vestments belonging to monks and their remains, as well as a centuries-old begging bowl. This is the highest point in the park, so it offers a marvelous view.

Opposite, there is the Yong’an Buddhist Temple, and on Jade Flower Island, you’ll find numerous fine buildings, which I recommend you visit.

A bridge leads from the island to the Circular City, surrounded by walls with a height of 4 meters and a circumference of 277 meters. This highly original construction is composed of spectacular rooms, towers and pavilions, and the most important building is the Chengguang Temple, with a marvelous white jade statue of Buddha imported from Burma towards the end of the Qing dynasty. Opposite is a large dark jade urn with a diameter of one and a half meters and a height of 70 cm, which was used to store wine.

 

 

An interesting fact: Jade Flower Island, on the spot where the Buddhist shrine now stands, was once home to the Palace of the Moon, where the legendary Kublai Khan received Marco Polo.

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