Beihai Park: Ancient Imperial Garden

Located in Beijing, China, near the Forbidden City, Beihai Park is an ancient imperial garden that belonged to the Jin dynasty. The park is one of the most historically significant places in the country. Its architectural structure and medieval identity that exemplify the ancient Chinese architecture and culture are its most important aspects. Since 1925, Beihai Park has been open to the public and is quite popular with foreign and local visitors. Today, the park has an area of 180 acres and a whole island at its center called Jade Flower Island.

Beihai Park

Beihai Park’s construction started in the late 12th century. Similar to many other imperial gardens, the goal was to imitate various natural beauties from all over China.

Beihai Park and the lake

The name of the park comes from the correspondent sea names across Beijing. Beihai means the Northern Sea while Zhonghai means the Central and Nanhai means the Southern Sea. Moreover, the headquarters of the Chinese government is located in this region as well.

Beihai Park and jade flower island

The construction of the park follows an ancient legend that the Chinese emperors believed for so long. According to the legend, once upon a time, there were three magic mountains in China. Each of these mountains had a deity living on top of it and each made a special herbal medicine that granted immortality to whoever drank it. For centuries, different Chinese rulers sent out their best soldiers and travelers to find these mountains but to no avail.

Beihai Park building

As the searching parties came empty-handed, Emperor Qin Shihuang tried to come up with his own solution. He tried to imitate the herbal medicine in the legends and had his people dig up a pool and put a mixture of soil in the water. From then on, nearly all Chinese rulers mixed water and soil in order to find the elixir of immortality.

Beihai Park and the city skyscrapers

Beihai Park’s foundation and layout are inspired by the legend. The water of the park, the island, and the seas form up the three magic mountains. While the construction of the park started in the 12th century, dynasties that came after developed it and enriched the heritage of the structure. Arguably, the most historical place in the park is the White Pagoda which was built in 1625.

the park interior

The pagoda represented the wish for a united Chinese kingdom and the Buddhist beliefs of the Chinese Emperor. The location of the pagoda is also important as it was the place where Kublai Khan received Marco Polo, the legendary traveler, nearly 300 years ago before the pagoda.

the lake at the park
the bridge of the park