Chinese garden has played a very important role throughout the development of Chinese society ever since the earliest dynasty.

Old Summer Palace (Yuanming Yuan)

old summer palace yuanming yuanYuanmingyuan, or the Old Summer Palace as it is also known, is located on the north-western outskirts of Beijing and is one of the five famous gardens built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1910).  It was known as the "Garden of Gardens" and was built in 1707 for the Emperor Yongzheng, and was expanded over the course of the next 150 years.  Much of the garden was built in a European style though the vast majority was Chinese, with some Tibetan and Mongolian influence.

old summer palace yuanming yuanDuring the Second Opium War in 1860, British and French troops laid waste to the palace and gardens and again in 1900 following the Boxer Uprising. Warlords and bandits stole or destroyed what was left. As a correspondent for the British newspaper, the Times, described in his dispatch on November 7 1900, every soldier on the spot tried to grab as much loot as they could. Only 29 buildings in a remote northern were unscathed while a great many treasures and artefacts were stolen or destroyed. During their travels abroad, leading Chinese historians, archaeologists and collectors have had chances to view some of the looted relics in leading museums and libraries in Europe and North America.

Plans have been made to rebuild the ruins of Yuanmingyuan, though these have been vetoed on the grounds that it would defile an important historical monument.