The Old Summer Palace was actually one of my favorite places I visited in Beijing. We went together on a field trip for our Late Imperial China course, led by our professor and now program director, Jeremiah. I sound surprised that I liked it so much because there actually isn't much left to see; most of the Palace is in ruins after being completely destroyed in the Second Opium War.
The New Summer Palace has since been restored, but the old one has been left in its fallen state, an everpresent reminder of the 100 years of humiliation China faced at the hands of foreign powers. (“Old” and “New” are also misnomers; it was originally one big Palace that included both sites. The “New” Summer Palace was not built to replace an old one, but rather just refers to the specific section that was repaired.)
Even though there wasn’t much to see, having Jeremiah paint us a mental picture of exactly what it would have been like for the Emperor living there made it incredibly worthwhile. The most helpful analogy he gave us: it was like your family having your own personal Disneyland, and you could hang out in a new part every night.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>I'm a junior majoring in Asian Studies and minoring in Graphic Design and Leadership Studies. My favorite hobby is language learning, specifically Asian languages! I also enjoy making music and taking photos.</p>