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Beijing Gong Wang Fu

Built in late 18th century and situated on the west street of front Shichahai, Beijing Gong Wang Fu, the Prince Gong's Mansion Garden used to be the private residence of He Kun, a famous scholar in the reign of Emperor Qiang Long (1736-1796). It was changed into Palace of Prince Qing in the forth year of Jia Jing Region (1786-1821).

In the initial Xian Feng Period (1851-1862), it was changed into the Prince Gong's Mansion Garden . It was controlled by three hosts during 70 years. During the reign of Emperors Xian Feng and Tong Zhi (1862-1875), the garden was repaired in accordance with the orders of Prince Yi Xin, with palaces built, pools dug, mounts piled up and threes planted behind the Garden. As a result, the Cui Jin Garden -- a beautiful garden with the same artistic conception as the Grand View garden described in the famous classical novel Dream of Red Mansions was constructed. It is as attracting as the Mansions of Prince Zheng and Prince Chun which were quite popular at that time. The Prince Gong's Mansion Garden is the most intact ancient garden preserved. It was cited by government as the key unit of preservation of culture relics.

Prince Gong's Mansion is one of the most exquisite and best-preserved royal mansions in Beijing and used to house several families, and has a total area of 60,000 square metres. The mansion buildings are located in the south; the gardens are in the north. The buildings include several siheyuan courtyards, two story buildings, and even a grand Peking opera house.In addition to the mansion, there is a 28,000 square metres garden, with twenty scenic spots, pavilions, artificial hills including rock originating from the Taihu Lake in Jiangsu, and ponds.There is a 8 meter long stele which has the character "fu" (good fortune), carved based on the calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi on it.

Since 2005 the mansion has undergone renovation worth 200 million yuan. In November 2006 restoration works started on the buildings. The mansion reopened as the Gong Wang Fu museum on August 24, 2008. It will display royal families' lives and aspects of the Qing Dynasty.

The Peking opera house inside the royal mansion not only stages Beijing opera performances, but also other prominent forms of Chinese opera as well. In August 2008, the Kunqu performance group from the prestigious "Jiangsu Kunqu House" performed at the Prince Gong Mansion for a week's run with their program Floating Dreams. Among the celebrity audiences who were at the opening including leading American soprano Renee Fleming.

Edited by Athena Lee
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