Prince Gong"s Mansion
Shichahai is located in the downtown of Beijing, with crisscross waterways and moist and cool air. This area was mostly occupied by water during the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), but a gold ingot-shaped islet emerged out of water during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Since then, many Buddhist temples, noblemen"s mansions and celebrities" residences have been built here, as this islet is considered a land of good fortune according to Chinese geomantic traditions.
Prince Gong"s Mansion stands on the southern bank of Shichahai. As the best preserved princely mansion of the Qing Dynasty, it is known for its well-built garden and structures, blending magnificence of royal palaces and elegance of private residences, traditions of Chinese architecture and elements of Western culture.
Prince Gong"s Mansion is composed of two parts, the residence in the southern section and the garden in the northern section, covering an area of approximately 60,000 square meters. It was originally built as the residence of He Shen, a powerful prime minister of the Qing Dynasty during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1736 - 1796). It later became the mansion of Prince Qing (Yong Lin) during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1821). It is habitually called Prince Gong"s Mansion as its last owner was Yi Xin whose royal title was Prince Gong. The mansion witnessed the rule of seven emperors of the Qign Dynasty (1644-1911), from the most prosperous days of Emperor Qianlong until the last emperor Xuantong.
In 1849, Emperor Xianfeng bestowed this residence to his sixth youngest brother Yi Xin (Prince Gong). Since then, the residence has been known as Prince Gong"s Mansion?
The residence is composed of rows of courtyard houses in the eastern, middle and western sections, all located on the three parallel axis lines.
Roofs in the middle section, from the front gate to the Hall of Shamanism, are all covered by green glazed tiles, indicating the prince"s status and rank.
Major buildings in the western section include Baoguang Chamber and Xijin Studio. The latter is truly an architectural masterpiece furbished with exquisite carvings of nanmu wood.
Back Screen Tower, stretching 152 meters from east to west, is located in the northernmost of the residence, guarding the whole residence like a protective shelter.
Prince Gong"s Mansion is rich in cultural and historical traditions. Persons and events related to this mansion are recognized as an important part of the history of the Qing Dynasty. Today, a cultural and historic neighborhood featuring traditions of princely mansions and centered around Prince Gong"s Mansion has been developed, characterized by magnificent royal buildings, quiet environment and rich cultural and historical traditions.
The protection of group sites is a comprehensive and systematic campaign involving such diverse aspects as archaeology, conservation, exhibition, scientific research, environmental overhaul, land use, industrial restructuring, population control and capital investment. We will face a more arduous task ahead in enhancing public awareness in heritage conservation and coordinating relationship between protection and utilization of cultural heritage.