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Prince Gong's Mansion, Beijing, P.R. China
a well preserved Qing Dynasty royal garden spot in central Beijing
Gong Wang Fu Museum, more commonly known as Prince Gong's Mansion, is one of the best preserved royal compounds of the very few that remain standing in Beijing today. Located just north of Shichahai (also known as Houhai) Lake in central Beijing and just northwest of the Forbidden City, the mansion was originally constructed in 1777 for minister He Chen during Emperor Qianlong's reign during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Unfortunately for He Shen, he was accused of corruption and executed in 1799, whereupon then reigning Emperor Jiaqing presented the royal complex to Prince Qing Junwang, the youngest of former Emperor Qianlong's 17 sons. Later on, during the first year of Emperor Xianfeng's reign (1851 - 1862), the mansion was given to the emperor's brother Prince Gong, and it has been known as Prince Gong's mansion since then.
The royal complex covers around 60,000 square meters, and consists of numerous rock gardens, ponds, trees, flowers, artificial hills, and its own theater. It is a nice place to wander around and cool off during the heat of the summer or if you just happen to be in the area, and about an hour or less is all that you need to see everything. It might be best seen in combination with a Beijing tour including a rickshaw tour of the nearby hutongs (alleyways), Drum Tower and Bell Tower to get a grasp on the what old Beijing felt like. It can also be seen in combination with a Great Wall tour if you have a full-day to spend.