Covering an area of 290 hectares, the summer palace (颐和园), which is located about 12 kms from central Beijing is an outstanding example of imperial gardens. The architect utilized Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake to create a great mix of water and hills. The garden architecture styles of various palaces in China were reproduced and combined to create the summer palace.
In 1750 emperor Qinglong commissioned the construction of the Summer Palace as a gift for his mother’s birthday. The construction took 15 years to complete. It had the name “Qingyi Yuan” (Garden of Clear Ripples) at that time. In 1860, Anglo French troops destroyed most of the palace, but it was renovated in 1888 by Empress Dowager Cixi, who is said to have stolen the funds of the Imperial Navy to re-build it.