Key Words:Theme Park,Landscape
Beihai Park is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved of all the ancient imperial gardens in China
Entrance Fee：Apr. to Oct.: CNY 10; Nov. to Mar.: CNY 5
Qionghua Islet：CNY 10
Circular City：CNY 1
Yong'an Temple：CNY 10
Through Ticket：Apr. to Oct.: CNY 20; Nov. to Mar.: CNY 15，Note: The Through Ticket covers the admission fee for the main entrance, Qionghua Islet and Circular City.
Apr. to Oct.: 06:30 to 21:00 (ticket office closed at 20:30)
Nov. to Mar.: 06:30 to 20:00 (ticket office closed at 19:30)
Recommended Time for a Visit：2 hours
The Beihai Park sits at the center of Beijing, on the west side of Jingshan, the northwest side of the Forbidden City, and is one of the three “seas” along with Zhonghai (“central sea”) and Nanhai (“southern sea”). The former imperial garden was built around Beihai, covering 71 hectares, with a water area of 583 mu (38.89 hectares) and a land area of 480 mu (32.02 hectsres). It used be the premises of detached palaces in the Liao, Jin and Yuan dynasties, and imperial gardens in Ming and Qing dynasties. It is one of the oldest, the most complete, comprehensive and representative imperial gardens in China. Since 1925, the place has been open to the public as a park.
It is a masterpiece in the history of Chinese gardening, consisting of Qionghua Islet, East Bank and North Bank. On the Qionghua Islet there are lush groves and exquisite architectures including pavilions, platforms and pavilions. The White Pagoda on the top of the mountain becomes the symbol of the park. The famous attractions, such as Haopujian (the House between Moats), Huafangzhai (the Painted Boat Studio), Tianwangdian (the Hall of Heavenly Kings), Kuaixuetang (Hall of the Swift Snow), Jiulongbi (the Nine Dragon Screen), Wulongting (the Five Dragon Pavilion) and Xiaoxitian (the Little Western Heaven), are dotted with lakeside willow trees. Beihai’s gardening is a combination of the grandeur of the Northern gardens with the delicate elegance that characterize private gardens in the south. At the same time it combines the pomp and splendor of imperial gardens as well as the solemn gravitas of religious buildings, bringing together all these dazzling elements into a harmoniously unified whole. It is a jewel in Chinese gardening art.
In 2017, Beihai Park has organized a “Beihai Stone Sculpture and Carving Exhibition” for the first time, which collected, reviewed, studied and selected broken stone relics scattered in the park to explore a sustainable model combining protection, exhibition and research of cultural relics while fully demonstrating the charm of Chinese stone carving. Visitors are invited to transcend time and space to communicate with the historical and cultural context behind each exquisite object and be inspired by the glory of the garden’s past.
In 1179, Emperor Zhangzong of the Jin dynasty had a country resort built northeast of Zhongdu, the Jin capital, located in the southwestern part of modern Beijing. Taiye Lake was excavated along the Jinshui River and Daning Palace (大寧宮) was erected on Qionghua Island in the lake. During the reign of Kublai Khan in the Yuan dynasty, the Qionghua island was redesigned by various architects and officials such as Liu Bingzhong, Guo Shoujing and Amir al-Din.
Taiye Lake was enclosed in the Imperial City of Yuan's new capital Dadu. After the Ming dynasty moved its capital to Beijing, construction on the existing Imperial City began in 1406. At this time, the Taiye Lake were divided into three lakes by bridges, Northern Sea (Beihai, 北海), Central Sea (Zhonghai, 中海) and Southern Sea (Nanhai,南海). The lakes were part of an extensive royal park called Xiyuan (Western Park, 西苑) in the west part of the Imperial City, Beijing.
The Round City (Tuancheng), originally an islet in Taiye Lake, was part of Daning Palace (Grand Palace of Tranquility) during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). It was called Yuandi or Yingzhou during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). In 1264, (Yitian Hall) was built within the Round City. The hall was renamed Hall of Receiving Brilliance in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).The Round City occupies an area of 4,500 square meters, surrounded by a 4.6-meter high and 276-meter long city wall. The Hall of Receiving Brilliance collapsed during an earthquake in 1669, but was rebuilt in 1690 and expanded in 1746 to what it is now. The Round City has a distinctive courtyard with halls, pavilions and ancient trees; a white jade Buddha statue is enshrined in the Hall of Receiving Brilliance; and a jade liquor pot named Dushan Dayuhai dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) is kept in the Pavilion of the Jade Liquor Pot. In 1900, the Round City was damaged by the invading troops of the Eight-Power Allied Forces. The Yanxiang Gate Tower was destroyed, the left arm of the white jade Buddha statue was damaged; all the other valuable cultural relics were looted. After the founding of the People 's Republic of China, the Round City was rebuilt. In 1961, both the Round City and Beihai Park were listed by the State Council as Key National Cultural Heritage Sites.
Painted Boat Hall
Built in 1757 during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), this building was inspired by the essay Painted Boat Hall by Song Dynasty writer Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072). Like a ship moored by the eastern shore of Beihai Park, it is actually an independent architectural complex, comprised of a front hall, a pond at the center, and the main building to the north; the exquisite eastern and western courtyards are named Guketing and Xiaolinglong, respectively. Circled by brightly painted corridors, this hall was frequented by the Qing imperial family, including Emperor Qianlong, Emperor Guangxu and Empress Dowager Cixi, for recreational events or short stays.
Stele of the Jade Islet in Spring Shade
The “Jade Islet in Spring Shade” scene was one of the Eight Great Sights of Beijing during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). Erected in 1751, the stele has on its front side an inscription “Qiong Dao Chun Yin”（Jade Islet in Spring Shade）in the calligraphy of Qing Emperor Qianlong (1711-99); the other three sides are inscribed with poems by the emperor.
Western Heaven Temple
A lama temple during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the Western Heaven Temple (also named Great Western Heaven) was rebuilt and expanded westward in 1759 during the Qing Dynasty. It was opened to the public in 1980 after renovation. The temple neighbors the Studio of Calmness to the east and the Hall of Full Enlightenment to the west. Located on the same axis with Jade Islet across the lake, this site is one of the best known in Beihai Park. In front of the temple grounds stands a four-column seven-story glazed archway, bearing a plaque “Hua Zang Jie” (Buddhist Pure Land) facing outward and a plaque “Xu Mi Chun” (Sacred Sumeru) facing inward. The temple gate, a color glazed version of the wooden structure, has three arched entrances. In the first courtyard inside the gate stand the bell tower to the east and the drum tower to the west. The bell and the drum towers have their respective flagpoles to the south and stone pillars to the north. One pillar is inscribed with the Diamond Sutra, the other with the Medicine Buddha Sutra. At the center of the courtyard is the Hall of the Heavenly Guardians, behind which is the second courtyard. The Hall of Great Mercy and Truth, located at the center of this courtyard and made of Phoebe zhennan, is a Ming Dynasty architectural masterpiece. This brown hall houses the statues of the Buddha of Three Worlds (Past, Present and Future) and the Eighteen Arhats. The second courtyard also has eastern and western side halls. The stone steps behind the Hall of Great Mercy and Truth leads to the rear courtyard of the complex. The plaque above the entrance reads “Hua Yan Qing Jie” (Pure Land of Buddha). Inside the gate is the Pavilion of Seven Buddhas Pagoda, inside which stands an octagonal stone pagoda. This pagoda has an engraved image of the Seven Buddhas and the inscription of “Note on the Seven-Buddhas Pagoda” in the handwriting of Emperor Qianlong (1736-95). Behind the pagoda is the tall, delicate Glazed Tower, exterior wall of which is decorated with colorful glazed patterns and Buddhist images.
Minor Western Heaven
Emperor Qianlong built Minor Western Heaven (Xiaoxitian), a two-year construction project (1768-1770), to honor his mother’s birthday and to pray for her happiness and longevity. The core structure “Land of Extreme Happiness”, covering an area of 1,200 square meters with a 13.5-meter transverse beam, is the largest palatial hall in the style of a square pavilion in China. This hall has elaborately-carved wooden casements on the interior walls, and a golden overhead plaque with Emperor Qianlong’s calligraphy that reads “Land of Extreme Happiness”. Overhead is a shining octagonal caisson ceiling with intricate dragon motif carvings. The hall, surrounded by water, is accessible by bridges. In each cardinal direction is a glazed archway, and at each corner is a small square pavilion. On the south side is a crescent river spanned by a stone bridge with carved railings. The building is stately and magnificent. Inside the hall is a clay sculpture of Mount Putuo with 226 statues of Arhats on the hill and ocean waves painted at the foot of the hill. This sculpture symbolizes the Buddhist paradise, thus also known as “Arhat Mountain” and “The Islet”.
Situated in the center of Beihai Park, acclaimed as one of the earliest imperial parks in the world, Jade Islet epitomizes the brilliance of Chinese gardens, architecture, calligraphy and culture. The Islet’s principal site is the Tibetan style White Dagoba. In front of the dagoba is the Hall of Good Cause, where a statue of Yamantaka is enshrined and the exterior walls are embellished with 455 small glazed Buddha images. Temple of Eternal Peace (Yong’an), a main building on the same north-south axis as the dagoba, stands to the south of the White Dagoba Hill. Within the temple grounds are the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Hall of the Wheel of Dharma, Hall of True Enlightenment and Hall of Universal Peace. The halls are dedicated to the Sakyamuni Buddha, Tsongkhapa—the first patriarch of Tibetan Buddhism, the Eight Great Bodhisattvas and the Eighteen Arhats, respectively. These structures constitute a Tibetan monastery complex. To the west of Temple of Eternal Peace is the Tower of Celebration and the Hall of Felicity where the emperors of the Qing Dynasty attended to urgent state affairs when visiting the garden. The Tower of Celebration was frequented by Emperor Qianlong and his empress during the winter Laba Festival to watch games on the frozen lake. Four distinctive, ingenious pavilions named Enchanting Scenes (Yinsheng), Refreshing Mist (Di’ai), Cloud Embracing (Yunyi), and Gazing Afar (Yiyuan) enhance the charm of the islet.
Temple of Eternal Peace
Temple of Eternal Peace (Yong’an) is situated at the southern edge of White Dagoba Hill. Originally named White Dagoba Temple, it was built in 1651 by Qing emperor Fu Lin at the suggestion of Tibetan Lama Naomuhan. Initially, the temple included the following buildings: Hall of True Enlightenment, Hall of Universal Peace, Hall of Great Attainment, Hall of Mirror, corner rooms, hill rooms and the White Dagoba. The Hall of True Enlightenment was the temple entrance at that time. The temple was given its present name in 1741; the Hall of the Wheel of Dharma, Bell Tower, Drum Tower and a new temple gate were added in 1743. In 1751, the Hall of Good Cause, Pavilion of Enchanting Scenes, and Pavilion of Refreshing Mist were built, respectively housing stone tablets erected in 1774 bearing inscriptions "Note on White Dagoba Hill" and "Note on the Surroundings of White Dagoba Hill" in Emperor Qianlong’s calligraphy. Over the years, some buildings and statues in this magnificent religious complex were destroyed. In 1993, the entire architectural complex was restored to its past splendor.
Built in 1651, this 35.90-meter-tall dagoba was damaged twice by earthquakes in 1679 and 1730; it was repaired several times, including a major restoration in 1964. The decorative top of the dagoba was destroyed during the 1976 Tangshan earthquake and restored in 1977. In 2005, a major restoration project, the largest in 100 years, was launched for the White Dagoba and the architecture on Jade Islet. In front of the dagoba stands the Hall of Good Cause, added in 1751. This hall is circular on top and square at the bottom with roofs covered in copper gilt tiles; on the exterior walls are 455 glazed tiles carved with Buddhist statues. To the south of the building are four copper screen doors. A statue of guardian of Beijing is enshrined in this hall.Behind the White Dagoba, where imperial guards were stationed, stand tall flag poles and a copper and iron artillery piece for signaling purposes.
How to get to the Beihai Park
Take Subway Line 6 and get off at Beihai Bei Station. Go out from Exit B and walk 5 minutes east to get to the north gate of the park.
1. Take bus 5, 101, 103, 109, 124, 128 or tour bus 1 or 2 and get off at Beihai Station.
2. Take bus 3, 13, 42, 107, 111, 118, 612, 701 or tour bus 3 to Beihai Beimen (North Gate of Beihai Park) Station.