About Beihai Park
Known as the Winter Palace, Beihai Park is an imperial garden and palace in Beijing, China, established during the Liao Dynasty in the 1st century AD. Since then, Beihai Park has undergone significant changes and renovations, with each imperial dynasty making its mark on the gardens.
In fact, Beihai Park has served as a haven for every Chinese royal family since its founding, including the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties through to 1911.
Beihai Park history
Spanning more than 69 hectares, Beihai Park contains numerous historical structures and was considered at one time to be the ‘nucleus’ of Beijing. The gardens were originally built in the 11th century to imitate the renowned scenic spots of various regions of China. The most famous aspects of Beihai Park are Qionghua Island with its iconic white 17th century dagoba, Tuancheng Island, and the north bank containing the Five-Dragon Pavilions.
Behai Park is rich with references to Chinese mythology, particularly as relates to the fairyland mountains of Penlai, Yingzhou and Fangzhang on which its structure is based. Many Chinese emperors have built their palaces in accordance with these fairytales as they are supposed to guarantee immortality.
Beihai Park today
Today, visitors to Beihai Park can enjoy not only its expansive grounds but its many Buddhist temples, exhibitions, royal residences and halls. You can also find Taihu rocks shipped from the Henan province alongside a range of art collections that includes jade jars from the Yuan dynasty to 495 steles inscribed from trees hundreds of years old.
Free to enjoy, Beihai Park is an unmissable spot to explore centuries-worth of Chinese imperial history through stunning examples of architecture.
Getting to Beihai Park
Located just a 10 minute walk northeast of the Forbidden City in Beijing’s centre, Beihai Park is easily found on foot, crossing over a footbridge to reach it from either Zhishanmen Street or Gulai Hall. Be prepared to walk around the 68 hectare park when you arrive.