West of the Forbidden City sits Beihai Park which was originally built for Kublai Khan before the Imperial Palace was even imagined. The scale of the park is appropriately regal and the huge lake is divided into three parts: Beihai (the North Lake), Zhonghao (the Central Lake) and Nanhai (the South Lake).
Beihai was opened to the public in 1925 and in 1961 it was one of the first important cultural sites placed under protection by the State Council. In the garden, pavilions and towers nestle amid the beautiful scenery of lakes and hills, grass and trees. Carrying on the traditions of garden landscaping of ancient China, Beihai is a gem of garden art.
The Park has an area of more than 700,000 square meters, with a water area that covers more than half of the entire Park. At the center of this Park is an island called Qionghua Island. The perimeter of the Island is 1,900 meters and its highest point is 32 meters. In the north area of the park is a big pool called Tai Ye Pool connecting the other two pools with each other. As the other two pools are called Middle Sea and South Sea respectively, this Pool has another name of Beihai (North Sea).
There are many noticeable and important places in this Park that we suggest you to visit. The first place is Bai Ta (White Dagoba). As you may find it in almost all the pictures that introduce Beihai Park, it could be called the symbol of Beihai Park. The body of the Dagoba is made of white stones which appear very pure and noticeable. It was built at the highest point on Qionghua Island. The Dagoba has a height of 40 meters. Sun, moon and flame engravings decorate the surface of the tower. Destroyed in 1679 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt the following year. Again, in 1976 the top of the tower received damage by the effect of an earthquake which occurred at Tangshan City, near Beijing City. Hidden inside the tower are Scriptures, Buddhist monk's mantle and alms bowl, and Sheli (the bones of monks with good moral thought and behaviors left after they are cremated).
On the north bank of Beihai lays a famous scene, Five-Dragon Pavilion. As five pavilions are connected with each other by bridges, floating on the surface of the water like five dragons playing on the water, so Five-Dragon Pavilion got its name. It was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and was repaired in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). It was an entertainment place for the emperors and their wives to go fishing or watch the moon.
Just to the north of Five-Dragon pavilion is Nine-Dragon Wall, one of three famous walls of its kind in China. Built in 1756 during the Qing Dynasty, the Nine-Dragon Wall was made of seven-color glaze bricks. Nine complete dragons playing in the clouds are decorated on both sides of the wall.
Also at the north bank of Beihai is Jingxin Room (Quieting Heart Room) which is a garden in the garden. It covers an area of more than 4,000 square meters. Built in 1757, it was rebuilt in 1885 during the Qing Dynasty. There is a brook behind the Room, which divides the garden into front garden and back garden. There are many towers, bridges, corridors, artificial hills and pavilions in the garden. During the Qing Dynasty, Jingxin Room was used by the emperors, their wives and crown princes to rest and study.
There is also a restaurant named "Fangshan Restaurant" located at the north side of Qionghua Island. "Fangshan" means that the foods and vegetables provided in this restaurant imitate those that were cooked in the court kitchen. Here, you can taste authentic palace food. This restaurant was opened in 1925 by a worker that worked in the palace storeroom. That worker invited some cooks who used to work in the kitchen in the Qing court to work together with him. In 1959, this restaurant was moved to the place where it now stands. It has received, from both home and abroad, many accolades from guests.
One more important scene worthwhile to visit is "Tieying Wall"(Iron's Shadow Wall). It is 4 meters long and 2 meters high. Made in the Yuan Dynasty, the Wall was engraved with cloud and beast on both sides with the color and quality of iron. The Wall is located at the north-east end to Five-Dragon Pavilion.
And last, do not miss Tuancheng. It has a history of more than 800 years. It was the palace for the emperors only. Come to Tuancheng, you can visit Chengguang Palace and Yuweng Pavilion, and some other small scenes like hills, big stones, corridors and small pavilions. You can find Tuancheng at the south-west corner of Beihai Park.