Fragrant Hills Park also called Xiangshan Park is situated in the northwest of Beijing city, about 20 kilometers away from downtown. With an area of 1,600,000 square meters, Fragrant Hills Park is famous for its imperial garden style and abundance of precious cultural and historical relics.
In fact, Fragrant Hills Park used to be a royal garden in Chinese history. In Jin Dynasty, Emperor Shizong order to build the temple on Fragrant Hills named Grand Yong’an Temple which was now called Xiangshan Temple. During the rule of Emperor Zhangzong of Jin Dynasty, Huijinglou and Jixing Altar were constructed on the hill. In 1795, the government of Qing Dynasty carried on the large-scale constructions on hills by investing the tremendous human and other resource over years.
Rising 557 meters above the sea level, the name of Fragrant Hill not derives from the fresh air or aroma in the area but the hills themselves. A biggest stone lies on its peak and looks like an incense burner from the distance. Especially, during the morning or twilight, the stone is shrouded in mist and cloud. It looks as if the mist and cloud curl up from the incense burner. So the hill is named Xianglushan Hill and shorted for Xiangshan Hill (Fragrant Hill).
When mentioning Fragrant Hill, visitors are always impressed by the red leaves of Common Smoketree. The red leaves of Common Smoketree are the most charming autumn scenery in Beijing. Therefore, the autumn is the best time to visit Xiangshan Hills. The red leaves of Common Smoketrees of all over the hill look like the blood. After frost, the red turns purple-red. These trees were planted during the rule of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty. Now, the number of Common Smoketrees reaches 940,000 and become Common Smoketrees forest.
Inside of the park, you can see Luminous Temple and Jianxinzhai. Luminous Temple is Tibetan-style monastery which set up in 1780 for receiving Penchen Lama. The most striking building in the temple is Octagonal Glazed Tile Pagoda which is 30 meters high. There are 8 bells hanging on its 8 eaves.
Going north from Luminous Temple, we can see a wall and inside the wall is Jianxizhai which is the only best-preserved historical site in the Fragrant Hills Park. Jianxinzhai was constructed in 1522 and rebuilt in 1796. The construction is featured with southern style courtyard.
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall is located in Xiangshan Biyun temple. Since it was officially opened to tourists on October 1, 1977, thousands of people from all walks of life have come to visit it. It is an important base for revolutionary traditional education and patriotism education. In the center of the memorial hall is a statue of Sun Yat-sen made by white marble. The left and right walls are inlaid with the letter to the Soviet Union written by Sun Yat-sen carved with Han white jade. In the northwest corner of the main hall is a glass covered steel coffin sent by the Soviet people on March 30, 1925. In the hall are Sun Yat-sen’s works.
In different season, Fragrant Hills Park takes on different view. If you plan to visit Beijing, the Fragrant Hills Park is a must-visit place.