Former royal hunting ground becomes ecological park

Updated: 2019-02-27

The historical and cultural value of Nanhaizi, the former royal hunting ground and suburban palace in Beijing, can be merged into modern life in the form of cultural relics and a new ecological park, experts say.

Nanhaizi played an important political role in the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). “The Forbidden City was the political center as the royal court, while Nanhaizi and other rural imperial gardens were where emperors worked outside the court,” said Yang Nianqun, director of the Institute of Qing History of Renmin University of China, at a forum held in Beijing in December.

“The place witnessed many key historic events,” he said.

Dai Yi, honorary president of the Beijing Nanhaizi Culture Research Institute, addressed the forum by video, saying that as a political and cultural center, Nanhaizi was a place of communications between nomadic and farming people, either in a peaceful way, or by war.

Wang Qiheng, an architecture professor from Tianjin University, said Nanhaizi is barely known by the public because few historical relics remain. But its role as a wetland in the metropolis should not be neglected.

“Beijing has two ‘kidneys’—one in the northwest, another is Nanhaizi. It's a key part of the ecological and water system of Beijing, and also plays an important role in the transportation network and water conservation in North China.”

Its cultural and ecological function should be seen by the world, he added.

The ancient maps of Nanhaizi were displayed during the forum at the same time, showing its geological layout, scale, and the location of its waters and rivers.

More exhibits, such as photos, essays and microscopic carvings, were open to the attendees, showing its role in royal hunts, training of troops and political events.

3D and virtual reality technologies were used to reproduce the Hexing Palace, the biggest temporary imperial palace in Nanhaizi, Deshou Temple, and other historical buildings.

After renovation, Nanhaizi is now an ecological park for fresh air and sightseeing. In recent years, Daxing district, where Nanhaizi is located, has become the biggest public wetland park with an area of 11.65 square kilometers. Embraced by a clear lake and forest, people can see the history and culture of the place back to ancient times. The second phase will open in July, 2019.

The district is also working on restoration and protection of cultural relics. That includes the stele with an inscription of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799), the Ningyou temple monument and the Nanhongmeng temporary imperial palace.

The elk that inhabit Nanhaizi are a vivid example of how China can protect wild animals.