Summer Palace locates 15km west to Beijing City and borders another famous attraction Yuanmingyuan Park. In 2009, Summer Palace is ranked as the largest existed royal garden in Beijing. The Palace was built surrounding the Kunming Lake and nest to Wanshou Hill by borrowing the designing method of gardens to south of Yangtze River.
In the Qing Dynasty before the Emperor Qianlong came into throne, he organized the construction work of four large scaled royal gardens at the west skirt of Beijing. Later the Emperor Qianlong spent 4.48 million Liang Silver to transform the site as Qingyi Garden, which resulted in the 20km long imperial garden. In the year 1860 during the Xianfeng Reign, Qingyi Garden was set on fire by the Eight Power Allied Force. In the year 1888 during the Guangxu Reign, the garden was repaired and rebuilt and got its current name, Summer Palace. The palace was rebuilt as a royal summer resort. But 12 years later, still during the Guangxu Reign, Summer Palace was robbed again by the Eight Power Allied Force.
In its golden time, Summer palace covers an area of 2.97 km2 and consists of two major parts: Wanshou Hill and Kunming Lake. 3/4 of the total area is lake. The architectures in Summer Palace were built centered on the Foxiangge Chamber (Fragrant Chamber of Buddhism). And surrounding the Foxiangge Chamber totally over 100 buildings and over 20 courtyards were built. Among the ancient buildings Foxiangge Chamber, the Long Corridor, the Marble Boat, Suzhou Street, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Garden of Harmonious Interest and the Grand Stage are all well known spots.
Besides the function as the royal summer resort, Summer Palace is also the alternative important political and diplomatic center to Forbidden City in late Qing Dynasty. On June 16th of 1898, in Renshou Palace (Hall of Benevolence and Longevity ) the Emperor Guangxu called in Kangyuwei and planned the Wu Hsu Reform. And from that day on, the Emperor Guangxu called in reformers 12 times in Summer Palace. On Sept 19th the Empress Dowager, leaders of conservatives, went back to Forbdden City from Summer Palace and declared the coup against the Hsu Reform. The Empress Dowager wan and the Emperor Guangxu was house arrested in Yulan Hall on bank of Kunming Lake. Later on August 15th, 1900 when the Eight Power Allied Force invaded Beijing, the Empress Dowager, together with the Emperor Guangxu, escaped to Xian via Summer palace. Summer palace was robbed by invaders once more and lots of architectures were set fire again. After the succeed of Revolution of 1911, Summer Palace used to open to public for free as the private property of the Emperor Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty. In the year 1928, Summer Palace was opened to public for free.