Fragrant Hills Park (Xiangshan)

john  —  March 9, 2013

Fragrant Hills is a special park on the outskirts of the city that offers lush open spaces.

Located at the foot of the Western Mountains in the northwestern part of the city, the 825-year-old leafy park is filled with traditional architecture and cultural relics.

Fragrant Hills Park covers 1.6 km² (395 acres), with a natural pine-cypress forest, hills with maple tree, and persimmon trees, as well as landscaped areas with traditional architecture and cultural relics.

The name is derived from Chinese Incense Burner the park’s highest peak, Xianglu Feng, (1,827 ft) is a hill with two large stones resembling incense burners at the top. Xianshan Park represents a fantastic getaway, offering an historic point of view as the home of leisure for past emperors and even Chairman Mao. Xiang Shan is commonly known for its vivid reds of deciduous trees in the autumn.

Fragrant Hills Park is recognized as one of the major tourist attractions in the city, especially during autumn, where the natural scenery displays fiery red smoke tree leaves covering the mountainside. Every year, thousands of tourists ride cable cars through the park. The grand opening of the annual as Red Leaf Festival takes place there. In Season, thousands of people climb up the steps leading to the breathless Xiang Lu peak.

The park, built in 1186 during Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), has been expanded during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. Thanks to Emperor Qianlong, many halls, pavilions and garden were added, changing its name to Tranquility and Pleasure. However, foreign troops destroyed relics in 1860. The Eight-Nation Alliance in 1900 caused more destruction to the park and shut down the Summer Palace. The Chinese Government since 1949 has been restoring the park to transform into a must-see attraction in Beijing.

The park offers two main routes to follow. The first one pass by the north area, where it is possible to admire the beauty of the Yanjing Lake, the bridge, Study of Reading Heart and the Bright Temple. The latter is a large Tibetan style complex built in 1780. The structure represents the residence of the sixth Panchen Lama during his visit to Emperor Qianlong. The park context includes the Fragrant Hill Hotel, designed by I. M. Pei, famous for its unique design, which represents one of the most exclusive locations for local hotels. The tour and complete view of the park is available thanks to Beijing Tours.

The best time to visit is morning when locals let their hair down and indulge in their favorite physical activities, mostly walking, taichi, jogging, singing and even ballroom dancing.

Visitors walk under red leaves at Fragrant Hills, Oct 28, 2012. [Photo/CFP]

Visitors crowd Fragrant Hills Park in northwest Beijing, Oct 28,2012. [Photo/CFP]

Visitors crowd Fragrant Hills Park in northwest Beijing, Oct 28,2012. [Photo/CFP]

Cable cars are filled with tourists at Fragrant Hills Park in northwest Beijing, on Oct 28, 2012. [Photo/CFP]

A girl picks leaves at Fragrant Hills, located in northwest Beijing, Oct 28, 2012. [Photo/CFP]

Address: Xiangshan Lu, Haidian District

Open: April 1st – June 30th: 6:00 – 18:30

July 1st – August 31st: 6:00 – 19:00

September 1st – November 15: 6:00 – 18:30

November 16th – March 31st: 6:00 – 18:30

Admission: 10 yuan

Biyunsi – 10 yuan

Gondola – 30 yuan (one-way) for week days, 50 yuan (one-way) for weekends and holidays, and for children is 10 yuan (one-way).

Monthly Pass – 10 yuan

Season Pass – 30 yuan

How to get there:

Bus: No. 360, 318, 331, 634, 714, 696, and 698, arrive at Xiangshan

Tel: +86 10 6259 1155, +86 10 6259 1264

Source: City of Beijing