SUMMER PALACE, Hall Of Joyful Longevity

Audio File length: 2.21
English / USA Language: English / USA

The Hall of Joyful Longevity was built by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th century as a gift for his mother’s 60th birthday. It originally had two floors, with a room for worshiping Buddha on the upper floor and a study on the ground floor, but it was destroyed by the English and French allied forces in 1860 and rebuilt with just one floor in 1887, as a residence for the Empress Cixi.

In terms of structure, the Hall of Joyful Longevity is a typical Chinese Siheyuan construction, made up of four buildings with a courtyard in the middle. The deer, the crane and the bronze vase placed opposite the main room symbolize peace, while the magnolia, begonia and peony plants that grow in the courtyard represent prosperity. Opposite is a stone wharf with decorated railings, marking where Cixi embarked for boat rides on the lake. The two huge carved stone pillars were used for hanging lamps.

You’ll no doubt have noticed the strange, huge stone in front of the gate: it was once believed to be an unlucky stone, because it had brought about the ruin of its owner, who abandoned it along a road where Emperor Qianlong found it. He was taken with the mushroom-like shape of the stone, and decided to keep it. Since it was eight meters long, two meters wide and four meters high, it was too big to pass through the gate, but since the emperor believed it was a good omen, he broke down the wall for it to pass through.


Now press pause, and enter.


As you can see, the main hall is luxuriously furnished with a carved sandalwood throne, peacock fans and a folding screen. The two porcelain dishes at the sides were for fruit, while the four large copper burners were used to fill the air with fragrance.

One of the rooms was used as a bedroom, and the other as a dressing room. Emperor Qianlong lived here after he abdicated, and Empress Cixi also lived here for a short time.


An interesting fact: the electric ceiling lamp you can see in the Hall of Joyful Longevity was the first to be used in China, and was imported from Germany in 1903.


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