Spend an afternoon basking in the peaceful elegance of the Summer Palace. First erected during the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) as a retreat for royal courts, the Summer Palace is widely regarded as one of the worldâ€™s most noted classical gardens. Covering 294 hectares, Â¾ of which is water, the Summer Palace is seen as the quintessential Chinese garden, achieving a purely seamless unity with nature. The two dominant elements within the landscape are Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, neither of which occur naturally. Kunming lake, covering an area of 2.2 sq kilometers was entirely man-made and from the earth excavated, Longevity Hill was formed. Carrying numerous different names throughout its history, the present day name of Longevity Hill came into being in 1752 during the Qing Dynasty under the Qianlong Emperor. The hill is nearly 60 meters in height and is adorned with splendid halls and pavilions on its front face, while the back of the hill is stark in contrast with its peaceful, untouched beauty. Composed of nearly 3,000 separate structures including pavilions, towers, and bridges, the palace was continuously expanded from its original design. Although completely destroyed by Anglo French forces, and again suffering severe damages in 1900, the Summer Palace was fully restored in 1902. The Summer Palace and its gardens were placed on the World Heritage List in 1998. Located northwest of the city center, the Summer Palace is now easily accessible to most parts of the city through public transportation, welcoming Beijing residents and visitors alike to the park. Relax along its calming, rippling waters of one of Chinaâ€™s most cherished gardens.