Photographs Show the Ruins of the Old Summer Palace2016-05-16 12:58:00Share:
These photographs, taken in 1879, show the ruins of the Old Summer Palace [Documentary] The Old Summer Palace (Yuanming Yuan), the Yuan Ming Yuan, destroyed by British and French troops in 1860.
The story of the Yuanmingyuan can be viewed as a infamous testament to foreign barbarism in China, and to the blindness of the Manchu court in its refusal to recognise the power of the foreigners knocking on the doors of China.
Since the 12th century succeeding rulers had developed a collection of classic buildings in the area, including some designed by Jesuit priests in pseudo-Grecian style. Then came the British and French troops in 1860 and razed the place to the ground, looting and destroying everything that it contained. It was an act of vandalism calculated to impress upon the Chinese empire two facts it was still trying to ignore -- the determination of the Western powers that China open its doors, and the helplessness of China to resist. Its destruction caused a great debate at the time, not least among the leaders of the foreign expeditionary force. The French writer Victor Hugo wrote an open letter deploring the action, calling it one of the great tragedies of history.
Yuanmingyuan was actually three separate parks: Yuanmingyuan (Park of Perfection and Brightness), Wanchunyuan (Park of Ten Thousand Springs) and Changchunyuan (Park of Everlasting Spring), centred around the lake, Fuhai (Sea of Happiness). Construction of the complex began in 1709 and took 150 years to complete.
The Qing Dynasty assembled the best building materials and employed armies of skilled builders, who dug lakes, shaped hills, planted rare trees and flowers, constructing 40 scenic spots and 145 large buildings, some of which contained art treasures and valuable libraries. Most buildings were in the Chinese courtyard style, but some were Western. The various groups of buildings, connected by long corridors, walls and bridges, embodied the most refined techniques of Chinese art and architecture.
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