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Prince Gong's Mansion

Prince Gong's Mansion or Prince Gong's Residence (Chinese: Gong Wang Fu) is one of the largest private residence compounds in Beijing, with a nine-courtyard layout and gardens, high walls and elaborate gardens, occupies more than 60,000 square meters. The mansion was constructed around 1776 for minister He Shen during the Qianlong-reign in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). From a young age, He Shen got the trust of Emperor Qianlong (1736-1796), and was able to make large promotion in the imperial administration. In this way he became very wealthy. Because of accusations of corruption, He Shen was executed and the mansion was confiscated in 1799, under the reign of Emperor Jiaqing in favor of Prince Qing Junwang, the 17th and youngest son of Emperor Qianlong. In 1851, Emperor Xianfeng assigned it to his brother Prince Gong. It is his name that is currently given to the compound.

The buildings of the Beijing Prince Gong's Mansion 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 buildings, there is a 28,000 square meter garden, with twenty scenic spots, pavilions, winding corridors that connect each other, terraces, artificial hills including rock originating from the Taihu Lake in Jiangsu, and ponds. The bluish green water flows like a jade belt with the craggy hill stones stand beside. The scenery changes with passage of time. The main building includes the Yaoyue Hall, Opera Tower, Qinqiu Pavilion, Yu Pass and Duxiu Hill, etc.

The scenery here is as beautiful and serene as that of the Rongguo Mansion and Daguanyuan Garden described in the classic Qing novel A Dream of Red Mansions, written by Cao Xueqin (1715?--1763?) in the 18th century. Therefore, legend has it that Prince Gong's Mansion was the residence of Jia Baoyu (dramatis personae in the novel), while some people think Yixin built the garden following the architectural style of the Daguanyuan Garden. On the east of Prince Gong's Residence lies the Shichahai Lake, a place for people to enjoy the summer evenings. The nearby famous gardens, ancient temples and royal mansions also add to the flourish here.

The mansion is on No. 17, Qianhai Xilu (Qianhai West Road), in the vicinity of the north end of Beihai Park at the west end of Shichahai Lake. It's currently being renovated and will be reopened to tourists from all over the world in Sep. 2008.

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