Located in central Beijing with the Forbidden City just to its East, Beihai Park is one of the oldest, largest, and most authentically preserved ancient imperial gardens in China. Originally built in the 10th century during the Liao Dynasty (916-1125), the park has existed through the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The significant rebuilding during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) has contributed greatly to the current layout and landscaping of the Park.
Prior to the end of the Qing dynasty the park was part of the Forbidden City, but since 1925, it has opened its doors to the public. It became one of the first important cultural sites placed on state protection in 1961. With a total expanse of over 68 hectares, half of which is a lake (added in the Jin Dynasty), the park attracts thousands of visitors from all over world each year.
With its artfully landscaped gardens, pavilions, and temples, it's easy to see why the park is often thought of as a mini Summer Palace in the heart of Beijing. Beihai Park is also a popular destination for locals as a place to gather to play music, dance, and sing. In the summer it is a welcome retreat from the heat and in the winter it holds one of the largest skating rinks in the city.