Prince Gong Mansion

The Prince Gong's Mansion (Chinese: 恭王府; pinyin: Gōng Wáng Fǔ) or Gong Wang Fu Museum is located in the western part of central Beijing, China, north of the Shichahai Lake. Consisting of large mansions in the typical siheyuan layout and gardens, Prince Gong's Mansion is known as one of the most ornate and extravagant residence compounds in all of Beijing.

History

Prince Gong's Mansion was constructed in 1777 for minister He Shen (和珅) during the Qianlong-reign in the late Qing Dynasty. From a young age, He Shen got the trust of Emperor Qianlong, and was able to make large promotion in the imperial administration. In this way he became very wealthy. Because of accusations of corruption, He Shen was executed and the mansion was confiscated in 1799, under the reign of Emperor Jiaqing in favor of Prince Qìng Jùnwáng (庆郡王), the 17th and youngest son of Emperor Qianlong.

In 1851, Emperor Xianfeng assigned it to his brother Prince Gong. It is his name that is currently given to the compound.

In 1921 Prince Gong's grandson had to hand over the property as a mortgage to the Catholic Church. It was bought by the Furen Catholic University for use as a university buildings, and afterwards for the Beijing Normal University and then for the Chinese Music Academy. During the Cultural Revolution the building was used by the Beijing Airconditioning Factory. In the 1980s it had a new revival. In 1982 it has been declared as one of the Chinese National Cultural Heritages in Beijing. Since November 1996 the buildings and the gardens have become a new publicly open scenic spot for tourists.

Structure of the compound

Prince Gong's Mansion is one of the most exquisite and best-preserved royal mansions in Beijing and used to house several families, and has a total area of 60,000 square metres.

The mansion buildings are located in the south; the gardens are in the north. The buildings include several siheyuan courtyards, two story buildings, and even a grand Peking opera house.

In addition to the mansion, there is a 28,000-square-metre garden, with twenty scenic spots, pavilions, artificial hills including rock originating from the Taihu Lake in Jiangsu, and ponds.

There is a 8-meter-long stele which has the character 福 (fú: good fortune), carved based on the calligraphy of Emperor Kangxi on it.

Restoration works and future

Since 2005 the mansion has undergone renovation worth 200 million yuan. In November 2006 restoration works started on the buildings. The mansion reopened as the Gong Wang Fu museum on August 24, 2008. It will display royal families' lives and aspects of the Qing Dynasty.

The Peking opera house inside the royal mansion not only stages Beijing opera performances, but also other prominent forms of Chinese opera as well. In August 2008, the Kunqu performance group from the prestigious "Jiangsu Kunqu House" performed at the Prince Gong Mansion for a week's run with their program Floating Dreams. Among the celebrity audiences who were at the opening including leading American soprano Renée Fleming.

Address

17 Qianhai West Street, Xicheng district, Beijing, China (中国北京西城区前海西街17号).