Once used as a summer residence for emperors, the Summer Palace is the largest park on the outskirts of Beijing. It is known for its archetypal Chinese landscaping and was designated in 1988 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering a sprawling 800 acres, four-fifths of which consists of Kunming Lake, the Summer Palace contains more than 100 buildings scattered throughout the park. Elaborately designed, bridges, and pagodas overlooking the lake create stunning scenic views, making it the perfect resort for royal families looking for rest and entertainment.
After being destroyed by British and French troops, it was restored in 1860 by Empress Dowager Cixi. Tales of her excesses, including the 80-foot marble boat she commissioned, mark the imperial decadence of that era. With a history of over 800 years, the Summer Palace represents the quintessential Chinese ideal of harmony of nature and man.