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Court Area
Garden of Virtue and Harmony (Dehe Yuan)

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This garden is lying north of the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, was built as a theater for the Empress Dowager. Its construction began in the 17th year of Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1891) and lasted for five years. The garden consists of the Great Stage, the Hall of Health and Happiness,and Qingshan Hall.The three-storey theater stage is the biggest and best-preserved wooden stage of delicate design and magnificent structure, and is therefore of much scientific and artistic value. Famous Beijing Opera actors of the Qing Dynasty such as Yang Xiaolou and Tan Xinpei would come here to perform for the Empress Dowager and the stage was regarded as the “Cradle of Beijing Opera”. The Empress Dowager also granted special permission for some of the princes, dukes and cabinet ministers to watch Beijing opera here.

Visitors can imagine the scene when the Empress Dowager watched opera in this garden. A large number of precious articles used by emperors and empresses, as well as some of the gifts presented to the Qing court by foreign states, are on display here.