The Summer Palace was the private resort for the Emperor and his family. It is mainly known as the playground of the Empress Dowager Cixi. She loved to escape the summer heat of Beijing and relax by the large man made lake in her many lavish palace buildings. Known as Yihe Yuan in Chinese, or the Health and Harmony Gardens, it is a place dedicated to Longevity.
As such stylized representations of the Chinese character for longevity (shou ) are everywhere:
Shou surrounded by bats (happiness) forms a design known as "fushou wannian" or happiness and longevity for ten thousand years
Shou on a water vat
Shou on the ceiling
On the phone outside the building that housed the first phone in China
The Baoyun Bronze Pavilion
Built in 1755 this all bronze structure was used for over 200 years by Qing Dynasty Emperors and empresses to pray and chant scriptures. It weighs 207 tons. It was one of the few buildings that escaped destruction when the palace was looted in 1860 and 1900. However, ten of its bronze windows were taken overseas. In 1993 the American International Group purchased the windows and returned them to the Summer Palace.