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The Imperial Gardens -- Yuhuayuan (in Chinese)

Outside of the Gate of Earthly Tranquility is Yuhuayuan (the Imperial Garden), which was built in 1417 in the Ming Dynasty. The imperial Garden is 90 meters (98.5 yards) long from north to south and 130 meters (142 yards) wide from east to west. The rectangular garden covers an area of about 11,700 square meters and was the private garden of the imperial family. It was the most typical imperial garden in China. There are about 20 structures of different styles. One will be astonished that structures can keep harmony with trees, rockeries, flowerbeds and bronze incense burners in such a small space.

Hall of Imperial Peace (Qin'andian)
It was first built in the 15th century. The main building in the garden, Qin'andian (Hall of Imperial Peace), is situated on the central axis of the Forbidden City, with a number of pavilions, terraces and towers arranged symmetrically to the east and west. With most of the buildings set against the palace wall, the garden looks quite spacious.The hall of Imperial peace is a Taoist temple and the religious building along the central axis. Inside the hall stands the statue of the king of Xuan Wu (Zhenwudadi), who was believed to be the God of water and could prevent the palace building from catching fire. In front of the hall are two 400-yearl-od cypress tress with their branches entwined. The 4-meter-high (13-foot-high incense) burner in the garden is the biggest bronze incense burner in the Forbidden City. The six smoke outlets are in the shape of two dragons playing with a ball.

Four pavilions of the Imperial Garden
Four pavilions representing the four seasons flank the left and right of the Hall of Imperial Peace. On the four corners of the garden, there is one pavilion at each, symbolizing the four seasons respectively. The Pavilion of Myriad Springs is the most famous one and lies in the east corner of the garden. It was built in 1535 and restored during the Qing Dynasty. This pavilion symbolizes the spring, and undoubtedly, there are also three other pavilions which represent summer, autumn and winter respectively. 

  • Fubiting (Jade-green Floating Pavilion) and Chengruiting (the Pavilion of Auspicious Clarity) Slightly to the north are the Fubiting (Jade-green Floating Pavilion) and Chengruiting (the Pavilion of Auspicious Clarity). Both are square pavilions over a pond, with open roofed corridors on their southern sides. 
  • Wanchunting (the pavilion of Ten Thousand Springs) and Qianqiuting (the Pavilion of One Thousand Autumns) Stepped and uniform in plan, the two other pavilion stand to the south: Wanchunting (the pavilion of Ten Thousand Springs) and Qianqiuting (the Pavilion of One Thousand Autumns). The pathway in the garden is paved with tiny cobbles of various colors in 900 mosaic designs, covering a wide range of subjects. Collecting Elegance Hill


Duixiu Hill (Collecting Elegance Hill)
Near the north gate, there is a group of man-made rockeries, called Duixiu (Collecting Elegance, Duixiushan or Gathering Beauty Hill) Hill with Yujingting (Imperial View Pavilion) on the top.

Duixiu Hill is a little artificial mountain with a cave. It is located in the northeast. Yujingyuan (Pavilion of Imperial View) sits on top of the mountain. 

In the Qing Dynasty, every emperor would climb up to the pavilion on the Double Ninth festival (the ninth day of the ninth lunar month) to enjoy the scenery with his empress and concubines. According to the old saying in China, climbing up hills that day can escape misfortune. Therefore, even today, Chinese people, especially the aged, still celebrate the Double Ninth Festival in this way every year. 

At the north gate of the Imperial Garden are placed a pair of gilded bronze elephants, symbolizing universal peace.

In the garden, visitors will find some footpaths paved with colorful pebbles, which form different patterns, usually symbolizing luck and fortune. 

The north end of the garden is Shenwumen (the Gate of Devine Might) and the rear gate of the Forbidden City.

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