Chengde Mountain Resort, a World Cultural Heritage site in Hebei

Updated: 2011-02-09
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The Chengde Mountain Resort in Hebei
The Mountain Resort of Chengde, a key national cultural protection unit, was listed in the World Cultural Heritage Directory in 1994. It was built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and took about 90 years (1703-1792) to construct. The Mountain Resort, also called Rehe Temporary Palace, is situated north of Chengde and 230 kilometers (143 miles) from Beijing. It covers an area of 564 sq meters (218 sq miles) and was originally built for the royal families to spend the hot summer months. When compared with the grand and solemn Forbidden City, the mountain resort is characterized by its simplicity and elegance. It is a grand architectural complex that consists of numerous palaces, the largest royal garden in China and wonderful scenery, combined with a pleasant climate.

The Mountain Resort is divided into four parts: the Palace Area, Lake Area, Plain Area and Mountain Area. The Palace Area lies in the south part of the Mountain Resort and is a concentration of palaces where the Qing emperors handled the political affairs and where the royal families lived. It covers an area of 100,000 sq meters (25 acres), consisting of four main complexes: the Main Palace, the Pine-Crane Hall, the East Palace and the Pine Soughing Valley. The Main Palace was the place where important ceremonies and events were observed but today it is used as the Mountain Resort Museum. The Pine-crane Hall was the residence built by Emperor Qianlong for his mother-the empress while the East Palace was damaged in a fire in 1945 with only the groundwork still visible today. The Pine Soughing Valley was the reading room of the emperors and the office where the emperors handled the political mandates.

The Lake Area lies in north of the Palace Area. Eight islets dotted in the lake, dividing the Lake Area into several fields of different sizes. In total there are eight lakes in the Lake Area, respectively called Cheng Lake, Mirror Lake, Ruyi Lake, Upper Lake, Lower Lake, Silver Lake, Half-moon Lake and Inner Lake. Cheng Lake is the deepest while Rehe Spring is famous for its crystal-clear waters.

The Plain Area is located at the foot of the mountain, north of the Lake Area. The plain is a vast area, and is covered with thick grass and trees. The plain area is broken into three areas: a garden populated by various trees in the east, a vast grassland for riding horses in the west and a group of temples in the north. Riding a horse over this broad plain leaves visitors feeling refreshed and relaxed.

The Mountain Area, located in the northwest of the Mountain Resort, accounts for 80% of the total area. The mountain area is formed by four valleys: Filbert Valley, Pine Valley, Pear Valley and Pine-cloud Valley, which run south to north. The mountain peaks surrounding the area form a natural curtain which impedes the cold winds blowing in from Northwest China. Various pavilions, temples and other structures dot the mountain slopes and valleys.
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