The development of Nanhaizi was closely linked to the rise of several ethnic groups in northern China. When Beijing became the political center, Nanhaizi, located in the suburban area, gradually became a place for emperors to enjoy hunting and other entertaining activities.
Liao dynasty (916-1125)
The Qidan ethnic group built the Liao dynasty. They were nomads, and were good at riding horses, archery and fishing. Nanhaizi was used as an entertainment area for royal families.
Jin dynasty (1115-1234)
The Nvzhen ethnic group defeated the Qidan and built a new dynasty called Jin. Wanyan Liang, a Jin emperor, often went hunting in the southern area of the capital and built a temporary palace there. The dynasty thus developed the initial form of the royal hunting ground.
Yuan dynasty (1271-1368)
The Yuan, a new Beijing--Mongolia ethnic group, set up many hunting places around the lakes and marshes in the south, where they trained eagles and hunted geese.
Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Nanhaizi was abandoned after the Yuan Dynasty wound down. In 1414, Zhu Di, an emperor of the Ming dynasty, ordered its rebuilding and renovation. They built four doors around Nanhaizi. Every year, Zhu Di would hold large-scale hunting and troop training activities. In the following 100 years, the place was equipped with government offices, temples and other buildings. About 1,000 workers were sent to its 24 gardens to raise animals. Nanhaizi thus became a famous royal animal farm, and was considered one of the top ten scenic spots in the capital.
Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
In 1644, the Manchu people ruled the country. They built more doors and restored the temporary imperial palaces. At that time there were more than 20 temples. The total area of Nanhaizi was increased to 216 square kilometers, encompassing clear lakes, luxuriant woods, deer, tiger, eagle and other animals. It became a political and cultural center in the early and medium years of the Qing dynasty.