Chengde Palace, the Imperial Summer Villa

Situated in the northern Hebei Province and 230 kilometers from Beijing, the Chengde Mountain Summer Resort, also called the Imperial Summer Villa of Chengde, is the largest imperial garden in the country. It is dubbed the "Mountain Villa for Escaping the Heat".

The palace, covering an area of 5.64 million square meters with 110 buildings, was where Qing

emperors spent their summer days. The construction of Imperial Summer Resort started in 1703 and lasted 89 years. In terms of climate, it is an ideal summer resort with an average temperature of 24.5oC in the hottest part of July. Kangxi, Qianlong and a succession of other emperors after them used to spend five to six months there each year, administering affairs of the state and receiving princes of the minority nations or foreign envoys. Hence the resort was more than just a summer retreat but a second palace away from the capital.

Chengde Summer Resort represents the imperial theme of "collecting the world scene in one garden, moving the best beauty to one place". The Palace combines the grace of South China with the grandeur of North China. It has the palaces in its south and the gardens in the north. The palaces were for emperors to handle political affairs and to dwell; the gardens had lakes, hills and grassland. The buildings in the Resort with little ornaments were constructed in grey bricks and tiles and unpainted wood. The simple style emitted the charm of wild nature.

The Mountain Summer Resort has eight large and small artificial lakes. Many of the scenic spots around the resort‘s lake area were copied from famous landscaped gardens in south China. Emperor Kangxi commented the Resort as "having the mountains as the bone and water as the heart". Emperor Qianlong's remark "Though it is named Mountain Resort, its beauty is in water" highlighted the feature of the resort. Because Emperors Kangxi and Qianlong many times toured in South China and they appreciated the beautiful gardens there, many scenic spots after famous gardens throughout the country were built around the lakes in the Resort. The Gold Hill Temple in Zhenjiang, the Tower of Mist and Rain at the South Lake in Jiaxing and likes were "moved" by the emperors into the resort.

To appease the Mongolians and other ethnic groups in western border regions, the rulers of China's last feudal dynasty Qing had a series of imperial temples built around the Mountain Summer Resort in Chengde. These grandiose and splendid imperial temples are called the "outer temples" in Qing-dynasty official literature. The Mountain Summer Resort and the Eight Outer Temples add radiance to each other among grandiose mountains and rivers. They are telling an eternal history.