Old Summer Palace – Tickets, Opening Hours, Highlights, and Tour Tips

old summer palace

The Old Summer Palace, also known as Yuanmingyuan (圆明园), was an imperial palace complex located in Beijing, China. Built during the Qing Dynasty in the 18th and 19th centuries, it was known for its stunning architecture and extensive gardens.

The Old Summer Palace consisted of several sections, including the Garden of Perfect Brightness, the Western Mansions, and the Eastern Mansions. The Garden of Perfect Brightness was the centerpiece of the complex and featured numerous lakes, pavilions, and gardens designed to resemble famous landscapes from around China.

Over the years, the palace complex was expanded and renovated by various emperors, and it eventually became one of the largest and most impressive imperial palaces in the world. However, in 1860, during the Second Opium War, the palace was ransacked and burned to the ground by British and French troops.

Today, the Old Summer Palace is considered a national treasure and an important historical site in China. While much of the palace was destroyed during the war, many ruins and fragments remain, providing a glimpse into the grandeur and beauty of the palace complex in its heyday.

Table of Contents

Basic Information

Estimated Length of TourOver 3 hours
Ticket PriceAdmission to the park: 10 yuan
Site of European Palaces Scenic Zone (Including Dashuifa, the Exhibition Hall, and the Labyrinth): 15 yuan
Model Exhibition of Yuanmingyuan during its Flouring Period: 10 yuan
Combined Ticket: 25 yuan
Opening Hours6.00 – 21.00; Last admssion: 19.00 (1st April – 31st October)
6.30 – 19.30; Last admission: 17.30 (1st November – 31st March)
Telephone Number0086-010-82539566

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Location and Transportation

The Old Summer Palace is in the Haidian District of Beijing, China, about 8 kilometers northwest of the Forbidden City, the former imperial palace of China, and covers an area of approximately 350 hectares. It is near the Summer Palace and is easily accessible by public transportation such as buses and the subway.

Take bus No. 129, 331, 424, 432, 438, 508, 579, 601, or 664, get off at Yuanmingyuan Nanmen Stop (South Gate of the Old Summer Palace), and walk about 100 meters to the west to reach the south entrance.
Take bus No. 305, 320, 365, 375, 424, 432, 614, 664, 681, or 982, get off at Yuanmingyuan Dongmen Stop, and walk about 200 hundred meters to the south to reach the east entrance.

Take subway line 4, get off at Yuanmingyuan Station, get out of the station from exit B, and you will find the ticket box right in front of you.

Highlights of Old Summer Palace

Magnificent Gardens

magnificent gardens in yuanmingyuan

The gardens in the Old Summer Palace are renowned for their stunning beauty and elegance. They feature numerous lakes, hills, bridges, and pavilions, all carefully arranged to create a harmonious and peaceful environment. Visitors can also see exotic plants and trees, including rare species imported from other countries. The gardens incorporate elements of both Chinese and Western styles, with European-style buildings and sculptures blending seamlessly with traditional Chinese architecture.

Unique Architectural Style

unique architectural style in yuanmingyuan

The architectural style of the Old Summer Palace is a unique blend of Chinese and Western influences, creating a distinctive aesthetic. The palace complex features traditional Chinese elements such as courtyards, pavilions, and pagodas, combined with Western-style mansions and gardens. The European-style buildings feature columns, arches, and decorative embellishments, showcasing the emperor’s appreciation of Western culture. It is a reflection of the imperial court’s desire to showcase China’s rich cultural heritage while embracing the modern world.

Bronze Sculptures

bronze sculpture in old summer palace

The Old Summer Palace is famous for its numerous bronze sculptures, which were created by Italian artists commissioned by the Emperor. These sculptures depict mythological creatures and characters from Chinese folklore, showcasing the Emperor’s appreciation of art and culture. The sculptures are masterpieces of artistic and cultural exchange between China and Europe, combining Western techniques with traditional Chinese motifs. They are a testament to the palace’s cultural significance and artistic achievements, representing a unique blend of Chinese and European styles.

Cultural Significance

cultural significance of old summer palace

The Old Summer Palace was a fusion of Chinese and Western art, architecture, and culture, reflecting the emperor’s appreciation of both traditions. Its exquisite gardens, bronze sculptures, and European-style buildings showcased China’s rich cultural heritage and its ability to blend traditional and modern design elements. It was also a symbol of imperial power and the importance of cultural diplomacy. Despite the palace’s destruction, its ruins remain an important cultural site and a reminder of China’s resilience and commitment to preserving its cultural heritage.

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Useful Tips Summarized from Reviews

Skip the Panorama Model Exhibition Ticket: It’s advised not to purchase tickets for the Panorama Model Exhibition. The exhibition only consists of a large model, and you’ll likely exit within a couple of minutes.

Bring Water and Snacks: It’s recommended to bring water and snacks or food when entering. If the weather is cool, consider bringing some filling snacks, while in hot weather, fruits can be refreshing. The Old Summer Palace is vast, and taking breaks for a picnic can be enjoyable.

Proximity to Other Attractions: The South Gate exit is close to Tsinghua University, just a short walk away. Additionally, the Summer Palace and Peking University are nearby as well. It’s suggested to plan a visit to these attractions on the same day for convenience.

Boat Ride Recommendation: Taking a boat ride is highly recommended. The area is expansive, and a boat ride provides a unique experience. The ticket price is around 35 RMB per person. The boat will stop on the west side of the Western Mansions area, and walking eastward allows you to explore the entire area before exiting from the East Gate.

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