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Summer Palace

With its handsome building, pretty scenery, and tumultuous history, the Summer Palace (also named YIhe yuan) is a wonderful place to explore. As long ago as the Yuan dynasty, officials set up their private gardens in the scenic area, but the Summer Palace didn't take on its present appearance until the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty. 

Most of the major sights are concentrated in the northern part of compound. Near the East Palace Gate, the entry point for most tourists, is the Hall of Benevolent Longevity where Cixi held court on her hardwood throne. A short walk away, on the shore of Kunming Lake is the Hall of Jade Ripples where Emperor Guangxu, Cixi 's nephew, was placed under house arrest by Cixi for daring to undermine her authority. The Hall for Cultivating Happiness is the name of Cixi 's delightful private theater that was built for her 60th birthday. She lived in the Hall of Happiness and Longevity, which is decorated with many period pieces.

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