SUMMER PALACE, Hall Of Benevolence And Longevity

Audio File length: 2.33
English / USA Language: English / USA

The Eastern Palace Gate, the main entrance into the Summer Palace, is a large building with a double-pitched roof, with two side entrances for the members of the royal family and the court officials, and three large gates at the center exclusively for the use of the emperor, the empress and the empress dowager.

Take a look at the delicate paintings on the architraves and the plaque on the gate with three ideograms written by Emperor Guangxu, meaning “Yiheyuan”, the Chinese name of the Summer Palace.

The stone carvings on the steps leading up to the entrance, featuring two dragons in relief, were transferred here from the ruins of the old Summer Palace in 1937. At the sides, the two bronze lions, crouching on marble pedestals, are imperial symbols.


Now press pause and press play again as soon as you enter the building.


You’ll find yourself in a small courtyard with two buildings, each with nine rooms, known as the Houses of the Inner Court, which were home to nine officials who served during the Qing dynasty.

The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity is the first architectural complex you’ll find in front of you. It was built in 1750, burned down in 1860 by the English and French troops and rebuilt in 1888 by the Empress Dowager Cixi.

The original furnishings can still be seen in the hall. At the center is a platform, with a throne, adorned with nine dragons, delicate peacock feather fans, an incense burner in the shape of a mythological creature, and a red sandalwood screen, carved with nine dragons and featuring a glass mirror in the center engraved with 226 “shou” characters, symbolizing longevity.


In the courtyard, don’t miss the marvelous bronze sculpture representing an animal with the head of a dragon, the tail of a lion, the horns of a deer, and hooves. This is a qilin, which protects against fire and comes from the old Summer Palace.


An interesting fact: in the courtyard, you can also see two dragons and two phoenixes in bronze, used as incense burners. If you look closely, you’ll see that the phoenixes, which represent the empress, are placed at the center, and the dragons, representing the emperor, at the sides. This is because it was the empress dowager who controlled state affairs, and not the emperor.  

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