Two weeks ago, we went out to see the Imperial Palace here in Shenyang. Most people have heard of or seen the one in Beijing, but there is one here too. The construction began in the 1600’s. It is mostly attributed to the Manchus and Qing (ching) Dynasty, though is blends many styles. It is a UNESCO Wold Heritage Site since 2004.
If you would like to read the rest of the history and palace information, I pulled this from www.chinaculture.org.
The Shenyang Imperial Palace, which is an excellently well-preserved cultural relic. In 1625 Nurhaci began construction on the palace and it was completed in 1636 under Abahai’s reign. After that, it was expanded in the Qianlong and Jiaqing reigns. It takes three hundred and thirty-two paces walking around the palace and there are eight gates. The streets in the city formed the shape of #. The palace was set up at the center of the #shape and was the imperial palace in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The palace was originally called the Imperial Palace of Shengjing and was renamed the Fengtian Xinggong (the imperial palace for short stays away from the capital) after the Qing Army entered the Shanghai Pass. Covering more than 60,000 square meters, it has over 90 buildings including 300-odd rooms and houses. Surrounded by red high walls and covered with golden tiles on the hall roof, the palace is richly ornamented and dazzlingly brilliant.
According to the natural layout and the sequences of the constructions, the Shenyang Imperial Palace can be divided into three parts. Main architectures on the east axis include the Dazheng Hall and the Shiwang Pavilion which were built when Nurhaci (1559-1626), the founder of the Qing Dynasty, began to establish the capital in Shenyang; the main architectures on the central axis are the imperial halls built during the reign of Abahai, including the Daqing Gate, the Chongzheng Hall, the Fenghuang Tower, the Qingning Hall, the Guanju Hall, the Linzhi Hall, the Yanqing Hall and the Yongfu Hall. On the west axis there are the Wusu Pavilion, the Jiayin Hall and the Yangxi Room, which were added to the palace during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. The Shenyang Imperial Palace is the second complete palace complex only next to the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The Chongzheng Hall, also called as the Main Hall, is located at the midmost of the front yard on the central axis. It was built during the Tiancong reign (1627-1636) in the Late Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). In the first year (1636) of the Chongde reign, it was renamed as the Chongzheng Hall, and is also widely known as the Gold Bell Hall. The hall has the front and rear porches and is surrounded by the stone railing carved with kylins, lions, sunflowers, lotuses and so on. The pillars supporting the porch are square. There are hornless dragons puffing water under the roof pillars. The roof is covered with yellow glazed tiles with a green edge. The pillars in the hall are round and two of them are connected with a carved dragon. The dragon’s head is stretching out of the eaves, while the tail is attacking straight into the hall. Hence the practicality and decoration are combined together, not only adding the imperial spirit to the hall, but also making the architecture appearance pleasing to the eye.
The ceiling has no decorations, and only patterns of blue lands and white clouds are painted on the roof boarding, making the hall look lofty and elegant. On the beams, purlins, rafters and square wood, there are colored paintings depicting dragons in the clouds, immortal peaches and others. In the center of the hall, a flight of steps was built in the shape of the Chinese character 凸 (convex). In front of the flight, there is a tortuous golden dragon in lifelike posture on a pillar. The folding screen, throne as well as the sundial, measuring tool and other articles on display were all set up during the Qianlong reign. This hall was used by Abahai to handle daily military and political affairs and meet foreign envoys and representatives of the minorities on the frontier. In the 10th year (1636) of the Tiancong reign, the ceremony of changing the title of the Late Jin to the Daqing was also held here. After the Qing Army entered the Shanhai Pass, the capital of the Qing Dynasty was moved to Beijing. Since then the emperors of all dynasties used it as a temporary court when they inspected the east area.
The Dazheng Hall, initially called as the Grand Hall, the Eight-Square Hall or the Big Yamun, was named as the Dugong Hall in the first year (1636) of the Chongde reign and was changed to the current name upon the order of Emperor Kangxi. In front of the hall, there is a space 195 meters long from the south to the north and 80 meters wide from the east to the west. Two ways were paved from the midmost. There are ten square pavilions arranged on the east and west, known as the Shiwang Pavilion (the Pavilion for Ten Kings). These were the places where the two kings and eight ministers handled governmental affairs. It is a unique characteristic of the layout for the Shenyang Imperial Palace. Behind the Shiwang Pavilion is the Dazheng Hall, which was structured with eight-square eaves and posts, connected by rabbets and rivets. The eight sides of the hall are wooden doors with grids without any bricks and stones, which can be opened at will. Under the Hall, it has Buddhist seat foundation and surrounded by bluestone rails with a variety of fine carving. The inside of the hall is bright with the sunshine penetrating from the top. The pendentive, sunk panel, ceiling and others are all extremely exquisite and unique. The roof of the hall, like the Chongzheng Hall, is covered by yellow glazed tiles edged with a green border. There are 16 ridges made of full color glazed tiles on the roof. In front of the main gate, there are two tortuous golden dragons carved on a pillar.
The Wensu Pavilion is the principal architecture on the west axis of the Shenyang Imperial Palace. In front of the pavilion, there is the stage and the Yangxi Room. Behind the pavilion is the Yangxi Room, which was first built in the 47th year (1782) of the Qianlong reign, specially used for treasuring up Si Ku Quan Shu (the Complete Library in the Four Branches of Literature) and also the place where the emperors read and enjoyed playgoing when they visited Shengjing on their eastern tours. The style of the architecture follows the Tianyi Pavilion in Ningbo City, Zhejiang Province. The Yangxi Room has front and rear porches, and its roof is covered with black glazed tiles edged with a green border. The front and rear eaves and pillars are decorated with green lichen.
Si Ku Quan Shu is a lager-scale collection compiled in the Qianlong reign, which had taken 10 years to complete since the 37th year (1772) of the Qianlong reign. The seven parts were separately kept in the Wensu Pavilion in the Shenyang Imperial Palace, the Wenyuan Pavilion in the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Wenyuan Pavilion in the Winter Palace, the WenjinPavilion in Rehe, the Wenhui Pavilion in Yangzhou City, the Wenzong Pavilion in Zhenjiang City and the WenlanPavilion in Hangzhou City. Later on, except the part in the Wensu Pavilion fairly well preserved, all the other parts in other pavilions were either destroyed in wars or littered and lost. Now the part in the Wensu Pavilion has been moved to other places. There is a stele pavilion at the east of the Wensu Pavilion.
The Qingning Hall, originally named as the Central Hall, is midmost of the back yard on the central axis. It was first built around the 10th year (1625) of the Late Jin Dynasty. The palace was built on a foundation of 3.8 meters high and surrounded by high walls. The gate tower named the Fenghuang Tower stands tall and upright in front of the palace. On the left there is the Yongfu Hall and the Guanju Hall, while the Linzhi Hall and the Yanqing Hall on the right. Each of the side is all by itself, thus they form two separate castellar complexes.
The Qingning Hall is five-bay wide. There are the front and rear porches. The roof is covered with yellow glazed tiles edged with a green border. In the east of the palace, it is a warm room, which was the bedroom of Qing Emperor Taizong and his wife. There is a partition in the middle of the room, separating the room into the south and north parts. The Dragon Bed (bed of state) was set up in the north part. Under the window of the south part, a Kang (a heatable brick bed) was placed with some soft seats to the east, where Emperor Taizong rested and met important officials alone. There is a side door in the west of the hall., which makes the west part become a pocket type hall. This was not only the place where the emperor held informal banquets in the inner court, but also where the Manchu witches Shaman prayed for the emperor and the country.
The Fenghuang Tower, originally known as the Xiangfeng Tower, is in front of the Qingning Hall and is a gate tower. It was in construction from the first year (1627) to the 9th year (1635) of the Tiancong reign in the Late Jin Dynasty and rebuilt in the 21st year (1682) of the Kangxi reign in the Qing Dynasty. The tower was changed to the current name in the 8th year (1743) of the Qianlong reign. With three storeys, the lowest one is a passage leading to a high platform, which allows the platform and the five halls to form a castle alone. The tower has three eaves resting on the wall like three drops of water. Its plane is square. It is three-bay wide and long, and surrounded by a roofed corridor. The roof is covered by glazed tiles edged with a green border. The beams and pillars of the third floor are visible. There is a colored painting on the top of the rafter. After the Qing Army entered the Shanhai Pass, Shi Lu (the actual records), Sheng Xun (the imperial edicts), Yu Die (the jade writing slips), Sheng Rong (the imperial containers) and other jade treasures used during the initial period of the country were treasured up here. The Fenghuang Tower used to be the tallest building in Shengjing, so the morning sun over the Fenghuang Tower was reputed as one of the eight sceneries in Shenyang.
After many large-scale repairs, the Shenyang Imperial Palace now becomes the Imperial Palace Museum of Shenyang. In addition to its ancient palace complexes, it is also well known at home and abroad for the abundant treasures. Every year, it attracts streams of tourists to visit and study. It is the most well-preserved extant imperial palace complex next to the Forbidden City in Beijing.