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vicino a ChangQiao, Beijing (China)
With the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park to its east, Zhongnanhai (Central and Southern Seas) to its south, Beihai Park, also known as Northern Sea Park, is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China located in center of Beijing. This ancient garden, with over 1,000 years' history, is not only a classic combination of the grandiosity of the northern gardens and the refinement of the southern gardens in China, but also a perfect integration of magnificent imperial palaces and solemn religious constructions.
Beihai Park is said to be built according to a traditional Chinese legend. The story is that once upon a time there were three magic mountains called 'Penglai', 'Yingzhou' and 'Fangzhang' located to the east of Bohai Bay (to the east of China). Gods in those mountains had a kind of herbal medicine which would help humans gain immortality.
Consequently, many emperors in the feudal age of China constantly sought those mountains. For example, Emperor Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 - 206 B.C.), wanted to live an eternal life and had sent people to look for the magic mountains but they failed. Then at his palace, he dug a large pool and piled up three earth hills in it to imitate the circumstances described in the legend. Emperor Wudi, the fifth emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (202 B.C. - 8 A.D.) did similar things.
It was believed that different mountain-water combinations in ancient Chinese architecture led to totally different effects. So from then on, almost every emperor during the succeeding dynasties would build a royal garden with one-pool-with-three-hills' layout as a fairyland near his palace. It was surely built after this traditional style: the water of Beihai (Northern Sea) with Zhongnanhai (Central and Southern Seas) is the Taiye Pool; the Jade Flowery (Qionghua) Islet, the island of the Circular City and the Xishantai Island represent the three magic mountains.
Actually, Beihai Park was initially built in the Liao Dynasty (916 - 1125) and was repaired and rebuilt in the following dynasties including Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing (1115 - 1911). The large-scale rebuilding in the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) generally established the present scale and pattern. In 1925, it was first opened to the public, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world every year.
Beihai Park covers an area of about 175 acres (70 hectares), more than half of which is taken up by the lake. In the middle of the lake and on the central axis of the whole park lies the Jade Flowery Islet, topped by the imposing White Dagoba which is the landmark. Besides the Jade Flowery Islet, it has four main scenic areas: the Eastern Shore Area, the Northern Shore Area, the Botanical Garden and the Circular City near the north gate. There are many famous and beautiful places you should not miss when touring it.