The Summer Palace has a history of over 800 years. Early in the Jin dynasty, an imperial palace named Golden Hill Palace was built on the present site of the Summer Palace. In mid-18th century, during the prosperous reign of Emperor Qianlong, the stable society and rich national coffers pushed China to the zenith of the country's feudal history in politics, economy, military, science and culture. Against this background, Emperor Qianlong personally presided over the construction of Qingyi Yuan (the Garden of Clear Ripples), and renamed the Golden Hill as Longevity Hill to celebrate his mother's birthday. Completed 15 years later, the garden epitomized the scientific and cultural development status of China. It was certainly a remarkable cultural construction project.
During the 19th century, the fires of two wars destroyed the Garden of Clear Ripples. Later, towards the end of that century, Empress Dowager Cixi had it rebuilt under the name Yihe Yuan, the Garden of Good Health and Harmony. The magnificent and colorful imperial garden thus re-emerged. This famous oriental garden crystallizes the essence of Chinese culture. Her important historical and outstanding artistic values will become all the more prominent.
Counting from the time when the Garden of Clear Ripples was first built, 250 years has passed. The Summer Palace is a witness of the prosperity and decline, honor and disgrace of the Chinese nation. It is an outstanding example of Chinese imperial garden, and a potent symbol of one of the major world civilizations. In December 1998, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO approved to inscribe Beijing's Summer Palace on the World Heritage List.