The city of Chengde is
approximately 143 miles from Beijing. In addition to being one of
the first ancient cities to be recorded by the government, it is also
one of the ten esteemed national-class scenic spots. There are many
places of interest in and around Chengde, such as the magnificent
Mountain Resort and the Eight Outer Monasteries. Chengde has convenient
transportation, and easily accessible by either train or long-distance
bus. Tourist trains and regular buses shuttle between Chengde and
Beijing on a daily basis.
The Mountain Resort
Also named the Temporary Imperial Dwelling Palace in Rehe, the Mountain Resort was built during the reigns of Emperors Kang Xi and Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty in 1703. The Qing Dynasty was the last feudal Chinese dynasty in existence and this palace served as the second political center of the Qing imperial court. The entire construction took place over a period of 90 years. It covers an area of approximately 1400 acres, double the size of the Summer Palace and eight times that of Beihai Park in Beijing. The estate has a total of 120 ancient buildings, including many pavilions, towers, and temples. Geographically, the Mountain Resort can be divided into two parts: the palace and the gardens. In the southern part of the Mountain Resort are the palace buildings where the Qing emperors lived. The emperors of the early Qing Dynasty often spent their summers at the Mountain Resort, conducting state affairs and engaging in political activities. In 1994, UNESCO listed the Mountain Resort and its surrounding temples as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
The Eight Outer Monasteries
The Eight Outer Monasteries were built during the 18th century. These monasteries, together with the Imperial Summer Villa, constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are grouped on the eastern and northern slopes of the Mountain Resort. Originally part of a 12-temple group, each was built to reflect the architectural styles of a different minority group. The glistening gilt tiles and grandiose designs show a harmonic combination of different architectural styles. The monasteries are grouped into two different sections close to the Wulie River, the Eastern Temples, named Anyuan, Pule and Puren, and the Northern Temples, known as Putuozongcheng, Ximifushou, Puning, Puyou and Shuxiang. Only Puning Temple is still in active use.
Mulan Hunting Ground
The Mulan Hunting Ground was formerly an imperial hunting ground of the Qing Dynasty and is now a national park. The total area of the park is 1,410,000mu, with the pasture covering 200,000mu and the forest covering 1,060,000mu, or 75.2% of the entire area. There are 81 families, 312 genus and 659 species of higher plants, 11 families and 25 species of animals and 27 families and 88 species of birds. With its distinctive climate, beautiful scenery and long history, the Mulan Hunting Ground is the perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring.
Jinshanling is one of the most imposing parts of the Great Wall. It is about 93 miles away from Beijing, lying in the mountainous area of Ruanping County in Hebei Province. It was built in 1570 during the Ming Dynasty and was a key military stronghold. Two-storied watchtowers were built along the wall at strategic points to create an impenetrable barrier. The ground floor was used for living and storing food and weapons while the top floor was used for defense. The watchtowers were built in different shapes, some square, some oval and others in various geometric shapes.