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YuanMingYuan (Old Summer Palace)

YuanMingYuan (the "Old Summer Palace"), originally called the Imperial Gardens, was an extremely large complex of palaces. It was built in the 18th and early 19th century. It was at YuanMingYuan that the emperors of the Qing Dynasty resided and handled government affairs; the Forbidden City was used only for formal ceremonies at this time. The southern part of YuanMingYuan was where emperors handled state affairs, while the other parts were composed of more than 150 scenic spots, involving rare exotic flowers and strange trees from different parts of the country. YuanMingYuan was, indeed, a veritable museum of garden construction and horticulture. Known to be one of the largest museums in the world, a popular name in China was the "Garden of Gardens". YuanMingYuan was destroyed by troops from a coalition of eight countries that included Britain and France in 1860. The destruction was finished off by a second invasion in 1900. Today, the destruction of YuanMingYuan is still felt within China as a vivid symbol of foreign aggression and humiliation. The structures are nearly all gone but the gardens remain, in basic shape and form, and the area is now a beautiful public park.

 
   
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