Introducing the Jingshan Park
Jingshan or Prospect Hill is a small hill immediately behind the north gate of the Forbidden City. It also borders Beihai Park to the west. Construction of Jingshan dates back 1,000 years ago during the Liao and Jin Dynasties, but the present 43 meters hill was constructed by Emperor Yongle (1360-1424) in the Ming Dyansty. It is also called Coal Hill because large amount of coal used to be put here when the Forbidden City was being built. Built of the soil from the moat of the Forbidden City, the Jingshan Park used to serve as a private imperial garden and for protecting the Imperial Palace from the evil wind from the north according to Fengshui. It is one of the most important also the highest buildings along the 8 km south-to-north central axis of Beijing. Jingshan was opened to the public in 1928 and a subsequent park was also established in 1949 which covers 23 hectares.
There are five individual peaks in Jingshan and each of them is topped by a beautiful pavilion, which were used by the emperor and officials for gathering and leisure purposes. The biggest pavilion is located on the very top of Jingshan Hill, which is the best location to have a panoramic view of the Forbidden City and downtown Beijing. There were also five copper Buddha statues in each of the pavilion but looted by the Eight Power Allied Forces in 1900. The present five pavilions are actually replicas with a giant Buddha statue in the highest and biggest pavilion. For Chinese people, Jingshan Park is more famous as the place where the last Ming Emperor Chongzhen hung himself in 1644, by the time the peasant revolt army entered Beijing. Right now, it is a popular place with the senior locals for doing morning excise, liking practicing Taichi, singing and dancing. It is also a popular place with the photographers in Beijing to gather in the dust of a clear day, waiting to take a panoramic picture of the Forbidden City with the lights turning on. There are four entrances to get inside the Jingshan Park; the most convenient one is the south gate which is 100 meters across from the north gate of the Forbidden City. The west entrance is normally used as an exit which is close to the east gate of Beihai, another imperial park nearby.