Why Beihai Park is special
As the royal garden with 800-year history, Beihai Park boasts one of the best China’s classical gardens with artificial hills, pavilions, halls, temples and covered corridors.
According to traditional Chinese architectural idea, different mountain-water combinations led to totally different effects. Hence almost every emperor in ancient dynasties would build a royal garden with one-pool-with-three-hills' layout as a fairyland near his palace. Beihai Park was surely built after this traditional style.
Beihai Park Highlight
On top of the Jade Flowery Islet, the White Dagoba was built in 1651 on the former site of the Palace in the Moon where Kublai Khan received Marco Polo. At the suggestion of a famous Tibetan lama, Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty agreed to build such a Tibetan dagoba to show his belief in Buddhism and his desire for the unification among various Chinese ethnic groups.
Inside, the dagoba holds the Buddhist Scriptures, the monk's mantle and alms bowl and two pieces of Sarira. Since the White Dagoba is the highest point in Beihai Park, it served as a vantage point with a beautiful view of the whole park.
Quiet Heart (Jingxin) Studio
Lying to the east of the Northern Shore Area, the Quiet Heart Studio is the most famous independent garden within Beihai Park. Inside the studio lie many magnificent palaces, halls, pavilions, towers, corridors and artificial hills, all artistically arranged. During Qing Dynasty, some of the royal members used to rest or study here.
To the northwest lies the well-known Nine-Dragon Screen, one of the three most renowned Nine-Dragon Screens in China (the other two are in the Forbidden City and Datong).
There are nine huge coiling dragons on each side of the screen and big or small dragons in different postures decorating the two ends and the eaves, making a surprising total of 635 dragons. Even after 200 years, the Nine-Dragon Screen is still bright in color and complete in appearance, showing the high techniques of Chinese arts and crafts in ancient times.
To the southwest of the Nine-Dragon Screen lies the Five-Dragon Pavilions - five connected pavilions with spires and pointed upswept eaves. From a distance, they appear together like a huge dragon.
There are many exquisite carvings and paintings on the girders and pillars of the pavilions which make the Five-Dragon Pavilions a delightful place for the royal members in ancient China to relax and appreciate the natural beauty.