How Long Did It Take to Build The Summer Palace

the time it took to build the summer palace

The Summer Palace is a huge place, occupying over three sq. kilometers. Have you ever wondered how long it took to build it?

Well, since this place has been devastated and rebuilt several times, it is pretty challenging to give an exact number. If you count all the periods and add them up, it should amount to around 27 years.

In 1750, Emperor Qianlong started the project to celebrate his mother’s 60th birthday. Its design drew inspiration from West Lake in Hangzhou and other sophisticated gardens in southeast China. The laborers dug the Kunming Lake, banked the soil to make the Longevity Hill, built over 3000 buildings and 20 palaces, and transplanted 1600 ancient trees from other places. This project cost the empire more than 240,000 kilograms of silver (the main currency in the Qing dynasty) and took 15 years to complete (finished in 1764). But back then, it was called Qingyi Garden rather than the Summer Palace.

During the Second Opium War, the garden was burned down by British and French troops in 1860. And when came to 1884, Emperor Guangxu decided to repair this place. Because of the country’s declining financial condition and shrinking budget, progress was pretty slow. The government had to focus on the buildings in front of Longevity Hill and ignore other areas. In 1888, the Qingyi Garden was renamed Summer Palace. And in 1894, the renovation was finally completed, taking about ten years.

In 1900, the Summer Palace was again ravaged by the allied army of eight countries (Britain, the United States, Germany, France, Tsarist Russia, Japan, Italy, and Austria). It took another two years to finish the repair. But most buildings’ sizes had to shrink, and decorations also reduced.

In conclusion, it took 15 years to build the Summer Palace (Qingyi Garden), 10 years to renovate it after the Second Opium War, and another 2 years to repair it after the invasion of the allied army of eight countries.

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