Beijing is well known for being the imperial capital of China's five dynasties. The historic city has preserved a number of former aristocratic mansions that are worth a visit. Here, we present a glimpse of five must-visit former residences of the Qing nobles scattered across Beijing.
The Mansion of Elder Princess (大公主府)
The Mansion of Elder Princess
The Mansion of Elder Princess was the residence of Kurun Princess Rong'an, daughter of Emperor Xianfeng (1831-1861) of the Qing Dynasty. Located in Beijing's Dongcheng District, the property was later transferred to Kurun Princess Rongshou, a daughter of Prince Gong, a half-brother of Emperor Xianfeng. Due to her identity as the adopted daughter of Empress Dowager Cixi, the actual ruler in the late Qing period, the daughter of Prince Gong was given the title of Kurun Princess, the highest for a Qing Dynasty princess.
During China's republican period (1912-1949), the mansion was owned by a theater and was rebuilt as a hospital of traditional Chinese medicine in 1956. In 1985, the mansion was duplicated in a park in Beijing's exurban area.
Address: Baihe Country Park, Xiwengzhuang Town, Miyun County, Beijing. (北京市密云县溪翁庄镇白河郊野公园)
The Mansion of Princess Hejing (和敬公主府)
The Mansion of Princess Hejing
The Mansion of Princess Hejing was the house of the third daughter of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) of the Qing Dynasty. The emperor doted on Princess Hejing especially after the death of his first two young daughters. The mansion, left intact currently, was a gift for the princess after she married a Mongolian aristocrat. Princess Hejing was given the title of Kurun Princess, making the architectural style of her dwelling, which covers an area of more than 1,000 square meters, equal to that of a Kurun Princess.
Address: No.7 Zhangzizhong Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing. (北京市东城区张自忠路7号)
The Mansion of Mingrui (明瑞府)
The Mansion of Mingrui
The Mansion of Mingrui was originally owned by Fucha Mingrui who was knighted as duke after he suppressed a rebellion in 1759 during Emperor Qianlong's reign. In 1834, Mingrui's great-grandson Jingqing inherited his title of nobility. In 1845, Kurun Princess Shou'en, the sixth daughter of Emperor Daoguang, a grandson of Emperor Qianlong, married Jingshou, the younger brother of Jingqing. Therefore, the house was also called the Mansion of the Sixth Princess. In 1984, the mansion became a site for historical preservation in Beijing.
The Mansion of Mingrui is a famous quadrangle courtyard in Beijing, where there is a cave in the backyard garden which was said to be a treasure house.
Address: No. 11 Neiwubu Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing. (北京市东城区内务部街11号)
The Mansion of Prince Zhuang (庄亲王府)
The Mansion of Prince Zhuang
The Mansion of Prince Zhuang was initially where Shuosai, the first Prince Chengze and the 5th son of Huang Taiji (1592-1643), an emperor of the Qing Dynasty, lived. In 1655, Boggodo, the eldest son of Shuosai, inherited his father's title and changed it to Prince Zhuang. The allied forces of eight powers occupied the Mansion of Prince Zhuang during its invasion of China in 1900-1901. In the 1920s, warlord Li Chun bought the Mansion of Prince Zhuang and renamed it Pinganli by demolishing some buildings of the mansion.
Address: Beitaipingcang, Xisi, Xicheng District, Beijing. (北京市西城区西四北太平仓胡同路北)
The Mansion of Prince Fu (孚郡王府)
The Mansion of Prince Fu
The Mansion of Prince Fu was initially the residence of Prince Yi Yunxiang, the 13th son of Emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) of the Qing Dynasty. The mansion was modified into a temple after the death of Yunxiang and was later given by the emperor to Hongxiao, the second Prince Yi. The mansion was confiscated by the Qing court when Empress Dowager Cixi killed Zaiyuan, the sixth Prince Yi. In 1833, Emperor Daoguang bestowed the mansion to his son Yihui, who was Prince Fu. With a rigorous architectural layout, the Mansion of Prince Fu is also a heritage site in Beijing.
Address: No. 137 Chaoyangmen Nei Dajie, Dongcheng District, Beijing. (北京市东城区朝阳门内大街137号)