The Tragedy and Revival of the Famed Gardens －－part one
In ancient China, almost every dynasty went in for large-scale constructions of gardens and palaces at the beginning of the establishment of the new state political power. But most of these gardens were burned down by subverters when the power was overthrown. The rise and decline of gardens was often closely related with the fate of the dynasty. Looking back to the historical progression of human being, countless splendid architectural treasures including the Hanging Garden of ancient Babylon and the Garden of Perfect Splendor were destroyed overnight. Human being's greed and ignorance caused one tragedy after another in the history of civilization.
In 1860, the British and French allied troops invaded into Beijing. In the face of these magnificent gardens and palaces, invaders became looters. The headquarters of allied troops sent down the notice that "everyone could plunder freely". More than ten thousand officers and soldiers rushed into the garden and looted the treasures without restraint. After reaving all treasures and cultural relics that could be taken away, they sent 3500 people to set fire in every palace and burnt down the Garden of Perfect Splendor, the " garden of gardens." The fire lasted two days and two nights. Days after, the invading army again set fire on the Garden of Clear Ripples, the Jing Yi Garden in the Fragrant Hills, the Jing Ming Garden in the Jade Spring Hill and nearby gardens of grant and private gardens. So many magnificent imperial gardens reflecting the highest achievements in Chinese gardening, and a huge unrivalled garden zone formed after hundreds of years' operation
The once destroyed marble boat now anchors at the banks forever. and management were destroyed and burnt into ruins within a period of less than twenty days.
After the looting, the Qing government once ordered the rebuilding of the Garden of Perfect Splendor, but failed because of the lack of fiscal resources and the disagreements from the court officials. In the 14th year of Guang Xu (1888), the Garden of Clear Ripples was partly renovated and was renamed the Pleasant Harmony Garden serving as the imperial resort of Empress Cixi who spent her rest of life here. In 1900, the Eight Nation's Allied Troops invaded into Beijing, and the Garden of Perfect Splendor, which was already ruins of broken walls, was once again plundered. The invaders from Britain, Russia and Italy had garrisoned in the Garden of Pleasant Harmony for more than one year, during which the precious relics were looted and the structures were destroyed. In 1902, in order to celebrate her 70th birthday, Empress Cixi even started to renovate the Garden of Pleasant Harmony using money that was supposed to strengthen the navy. Due to the frequent damage and the decline of national power of the Qing Dynasty, the weak Qing government had no strength to protect these precious gardens any more.