The Summer Palace, in downtown Beijing, is an enclave of peace away from the craziness of the city. Dominated by the Longevity Hill and set around the Kunming lake, an artificial lake entirely man made, the place has a variety of palaces and gardens.
The Summer Palace was almost destroyed twice: once during the Anglo-French invasion in 1860, and once during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. It was rebuild shortly after and served as a summer resort for the late Qing dynasty’s witchy Empress, Cixi.
Today, the Summer Palace is of course a tourist destination, but is also a Beijinger’s favorite, where older people enjoy practicing Tai Chi while exercise their calligraphy skills using a wet brush to draw characters on the pavement, where toddlers take their first steps and kids fly their kites and where young couple take their “little emperors” (the Chinese generation of only child) for a walk.