Travel bucket list idea:
A former imperial garden in the heart of the capital, Beihai Park is visible for miles around thanks to the Tibetan-style White Dagoba that rises up imperiously over the lake (Beihai literally means northern sea).
Around the lotus-strewn waters, plied by pleasure boats in summer, are ornate temples, pavilions, and former imperial residences. Be sure to seek out the Nine Dragon Screen, a 27m-long ‘spirit wall’ carved with writhing dragons, the symbol of the emperor.
Jingxin Studio, a ‘garden within a garden’ on the north shore, is a perfect little example of classical Chinese garden design, with its rockeries, water features and ornamental buildings. Qing emperor Qianlong would come here to relax, drink tea and play the zither.
While you’re there
Just outside Beihai’s south gate is the Round City, a raised platform on the site of Kublai Khan’s former palace during the Yuan dynasty. Look out for the huge vase, actually a wine vessel crafted from green jade and dating to 1265.
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