Comments of the World Heritage Committee
The Mountain Resort (the Qing Dynasty’s Summer Palace) in Chengde, Hebei Province was built between 1703 and 1792. It is a vast complex of palaces and administrative and ceremonial buildings. Temples of various architectural styles and imperial gardens blend harmoniously into a landscape of lakes, pastureland and forests. In addition to its aesthetic interest, the Mountain Resort is a rare historic vestige of the final development of feudal society in China.
Located in the depth of the Yanshan Mountains in the north of downtown Chengde City, Hebei Province, the Chengde Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples are a large-scale ancient architectural group that combines a royal garden with imperial temples. Construction began in 1703 under the rule of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It used to be the summer resort and hunting ground for the Qing emperors and remains the largest extant imperial palace and temple complex in China.
The Mountain Resort is the place where the emperor would spend his summer holidays while still handling administrative matters. Covering an area of 5,640,000 square meters, the Mountain Resort consists of the Palace Area and the Pleasure Areas. Subtle use was made of the natural surroundings. The Palace Area is consisted of four groups of buildings, including the Main Hall, the Songhe Hall, the Wanhe Songfeng Palace, and the East Palace. The buildings are constructed of black bricks and grey tiles in the simple traditional Chinese style, but with a dash of Imperial solemnity. The Pleasure Areas consist of the Lake Area, the Plain Area and the Mountain Area. The most beautiful scenery is concentrated in the Lake Area which, located in the south-eastern part of the Resort, covers 496,00C square meters. There are eight lakes (West, Chenghu, Ruyi, Upper Lower, Silver, Mirror, and Crescent) and the area is laid out in accordance with traditional Chinese garden design, based on classical mythology — “encircling a lake with three hills and surrounding an isle with water.” Several groups of buildings create a landscape similar to that in the southern region of the Yangtze River. The Plain Area i: divided into two parts — the western grasslands and the eastern forest (also known as the Ten Thousand Tree Garden). In the westerr part of the Ten Thousand Tree Garden is Wenjin Hall, one of the four largest Imperial libraries in China. The Mountain Area consists of four large ravines (Zhengzi, Songlin, Lishu, and Songyun). On the mountain itself, flourishing pines and various other kinds of tree reach up into the sky.
The Outlying Temples, resplendent and magnificent, cover a total area of 472,000 square meters. They originally consisted of 11 lama temples in different architectural styles, eight of which were administrated by the Council in Charge of the Border and Religious Affair of the Qing Court and lay outside the Gubeikou, hence the name “outlying eight temples”. They are in the Han-style, the Tibetan-style or a combination of the two. Grand in scale and consummate in the artistry, they are well-preserved and house approximately 1,000 statues of Buddha as well as various musical instruments, thus mailing them one of holiest sites for Tibetan Buddhists.
There are shuttle trains and buses running from a number of cities including Beijing, Tianjin and Shijiazhuang to Chengde. In addition, the Beijing-Chengde and the Qinhuangdao-Chengde expressways end in downtown Chengde. From Chengde Railway Station, tourists can take public bus Nos. 5,7,11 or 15 to the Mountain Resort.
Autumn is the best season to visit the Chengde Mountain Resort and its Outlying Temples.