Yuanmingyuan means the Gardens of Perfect Brightness. It was a complex of palaces and gardens, the emperors of the Qing Dynasty resided here mostly, also handled government affairs here.
Yuanmingyuan was composed of three gardens: Yuanmingyuan (Garden of Perfect Brightness), Changchunyuan (Garden of Eternal Spring), and Qichunyuan (Garden of Blossoming Spring). Covered an area of about 350 hectares. It had been built painstakingly and expanded repeatedly under the personal supervision of five emperors of the Qing Dynasty. Because of its extensive collection of garden and building architectures, Yuanmingyuan is known as the "Garden of gardens". During its heyday, it was also known for the "Versailles of the East" as imperial museum with a vast collection of cultural treasures.
Unfortunately, these gorgeous imperial gardens was burned to the ground by British and French troops in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Its glory no longer exist, the debris bear witness to the atrocities of the Western powers and the corruption of the late Qing Dynasty.
After some renovations, Yuanmingyuan opens to the public, a grand lotus festival is held every year. And some ruins are still remained to admonish Chinese People to remeber the tragedy.