This mansion is the largest and most well-preserved in Beijing. It’s a architectural treasure that preserves the classic, Chinese style. And, it’s an important piece of history for those interested in the Chinese feudal society of the past. It has an interesting story, and is a place for locals and tourists to learn more about Chinese heritage and culture. If you’re visiting Beijing and want to check out the Prince Gong Mansion, here’s what you need to know.
Interesting Facts About Prince Gong
- The mansion also goes by the name, Gong Wang Fu, or Prince Kung Mansion.
- It can be found at Qianhai Xijie which is to the north of Shichahai.
- The mansion was built sometime around 1777.
- It was once the residence of Heshen, a young and intelligent member of the imperial guard.
- Heshen became corrupt and was eventually killed. His mansion was confiscated.
- The mansion was given to Prince Qing in 1799.
- During the 1800s, the mansion was given over to Prince Gong, which is where the structure got its current name.
- It is a traditional courtyard mansion, a style that was popularized during imperial Beijing.
- The property stretches for 14.9 acres.
- Over half of the mansion is reserved for residence, while the rest is for the gardens.
- The living quarters have three sets of courtyards.
- There is a large pavillion with 40 rooms.
- The garden features artificial mountains and is renowned for its exquisite design.
- The garden is 6.9 acres and features 20 scenic areas.
- Beijing opera is performed on the on-site stage daily.
History Of Prince Gong Mansion
The mansion was built in 1777 during the Qing dynasty. It was built specifically for a prominent court member, Heshen, under the rule of the Qianlong Emperor. Heshen was in his early twenties when he gained favorable recognition from the emperor, and quickly moved up the ranks. He received high positions within the imperial administration and quickly became one of the wealthiest members of the imperial court.
After the Qianlong Emperor was replaced by the Jiaqing Emperor in 1799, Heshen was accused of corruption. This new emperor had Heshen killed and then confiscated his mansion. The Qianlong Emperor then gave the mansion to his 17th son, Prince Qing.
Later, in 1851, the mansion was passed down again to Prince Gong, the 6th brother of the Xianfeng Emperor. The mansion has retained his name throughout the years. The Qing dynasty collapsed in 1921, and it was during this time that Puwei, Prince Gong’s grandson, offered the mansion as mortgage to the Catholic Church. They accepted and restored the mansion to be used as a University called, Furen Catholic University. However, these priests were deported from China in the early 1950s.
It was used as an air conditioning factory during the Cultural Revolution, and was declared a historical site of importance in the early 1980s. It was in 1996 that the mansion became a major tourist attraction in Beijing. And, in 2008, the mansion underwent even more renovations in preparation for the Beijing Olympics.
Culture Of Prince Gong Mansion
The mansion gets its roots in imperial, Chinese culture. It’s historically significant and has plenty to see. If you’re visiting Prince Gong Mansion, here’s what you should check out:
The Courtyards: There are multiple courtyards throughout the mansion. Sometimes, they can be easy to miss. Make sure to wander around, take a moment to sit down and relax, and take some photos. They all feature beautiful gardens, traditional design, and a fabulous photo opportunity.
Opera House: While the architecture is incredible, the performances are the main attraction here. You can buy a ticket to the opera when you enter the mansion, and the shows are worth the small price. Many of the performances include children doing acrobatics, as well as other types of traditional dance.
Jincui Yuan: This is the primary garden of Prince Gong Mansion. It’s known for its stunning design and plants. There’s a pond, stone structures, a pavilion, and plenty of fantastic views as the garden is located on a hill.
Fu Stele: This small cavern is where the best view of the mansion can be seen. It’s well-lit and located next to Bat Pond. There may be a line of people trying to enter because the photo opportunities are so fantastic. There’s a legend surrounding the cave, and those who visit try to touch the Fu, so they can have good luck.
Bamboo Courtyard and Peony Garden: Located in the main garden are the bamboo courtyard and peony gardens. They look beautiful in the spring and summertime, and make a great background for photos.
The Exhibitions: Prince Gong is like a museum with various exhibitions for visitors. Guests can see the painting, furniture, and porcelain exhibitions while visiting.
Shichahai Scenic Area: Located near the mansion is another one of Beijing’s beautiful, scenic areas. It’s surrounded by lakes and is the city’s only open water area. Additionally, it boasts one of the most scenic areas in Beijing. Take some time to wander the hutongs here, glimpse at the homes of former celebrities, and try the street food.
Beijing Normal College: Located near the mansion, this is one of city’s top universities. You can wander around the campus to learn more about what student life is like here. The architecture and gardens are quite beautiful as well.
Tips For Visiting Prince Gong Museum
- Taking the bus is one of the most efficient and stress-free ways to get to the mansion.
-Make sure to have 40 CNY for the admission ticket.
-You can use the free audio guide if you want to learn more about the area.
-It takes about two hours to properly explore the mansion.
-Make sure to dress for the weather in which you’re visiting. You’ll be spending plenty of time outside.
-Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a lot of walking.
-Book the ticket for the opera if you want to learn more about the local culture.