A Zhejiang film studio plans to invest 30 billion yuan in building a full-scale replica of the Old Summer Palace, which once completed should restore China to its former glory while also bringing in a whole lot of money.
The original Old Summer Palace, located in Beijing, was looted and destroyed in 1860 at the end of the Second Opium War by British and French forces, a low point in China’s “century of humiliation” and still something of a sore spot for many. It was built in the 18th and early 19th century as a private garden for the royal family of the Qing Dynasty and its beauty and diversity earned it the moniker the “garden of all gardens.”
Hengdian World Studios, a film studio based in the town of Hengdian in Zhejiang Province and sometimes referred to as “Chinawood,” says that the replica will feature an incredible 95 percent of the original palace’s architecture. NetEase reports that it will cover an area of 413 hectacres and cost around 30 billion yuan to build. The complex will be divided into four divisions: Spring Park, Summer Park, Autumn Park and Winter Park. Spring Park will open on May 10th. The rest of the gardens are expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
In the mid-1990s Hengdian World Studios gradually turned acres of farmland in central Zhejiang into one of the largest movie studios in Asia. It is already home to the largest indoor Buddha figure in China as well as the replica imperial palace that Zhang Yimou used in his film Hero. So, recreating something like the Old Summer Palace should be a breeze.
Hengdian’s founder Xu Wenrong said that he hopes the reconstruction will enhance people’s understanding of traditional Chinese culture without bringing any of the baggage that comes with the original. “The relics of the Old Summer Palace in Beijing remind us of the history of being invaded, while the new one will showcase the glories of ancient wisdom and creativity,” he said.
The New Old Summer Palace will even improve on the old version with LED lighting and laser shows. It’s also got a super authentic-looking Ice Sculpture Museum.
But will it be able to match the grandeur of The Great Pyramid of Chuzhou or the glory of the Sphinx of Shijiazhuang?
by Alex Linder
[Images via NetEase]