Taoran Pavilion Park is a truly established old neighborhood park. When it was completely redesigned in 1952 excavations revealed that settlements existed as far back as the 3rd century BC. Unlike other parks that were only for the use of the emperor and his family, this park was available to everyone. During the Qing Dynasty the Taoran Pavilion was a popular meeting place for poets and other writers.
It was located in the south of Beijing's Xuanwu District, covers 59 hectares out of which 17 hectares water surface. The park was built in 1952, and it is the first modern landscape Architecture after the foundation of the Peoples Republic of China. There exists famous historical sites of Beijing strong cultural atmosphere, and revolution made it a famous resort attracting numerous visitors.
History and Today
In 1695 Qing Dynasty, a senior official of the central government ordered to build a pavilion to the west of the Mercy Nunnery and named it "Taoran"quoted from a poem of Bai Ju-yi, one of the greatest poets in Tang Dynasty. Literaties liked the Pavilion very much, and those who lived in other provinces must here when they came to Beijing. It has been well known and had been a famous site of Beijing with 200 years of Qing Dynasty.
Taoran Ting (Taoran Pavilion) is the best-known spot within Taoranting Park and is also from where the park gets its name. Taoran Ting is listed as one of China's four famous historical pavilions, together with Aiwan Pavilion in Changsha, Zuiweng Pavilion in Chuzhou, and Huxin Pavilion in Hangzhou. It was built in the Qing Dynasty and enjoyed great fame at that time. Scholars often attentted this pavilion, gathering there reciting and composing poetry and essays, or just to relax, admiring the beauty of the moon. After the foundation of People's Republic of China, it was rebuilt and since then has been greatly enjoyed by Beijing citizens.
Taoran Pavilion also had a splendid revolutionary history in modern times, especially in the period of "May fourth Movement. The founders and leaders of CPC like Li Dazhao,Mao Zedong, and Zhou Enlai came here to hold revolutionary activities. On January 18,1920,revolutionaries Mao Zedong, Deng Zhongxia and members of Assist society gathered here to discuss a plan how to struggle against the Hunan warlord Zhang Jingyao. Photographs of remembrance were taken right under this old pagoda tree. On August 16th, 1920,by members of the conscious society led by comrade Zhou Enlai together with delegacy of young China society.
The Dawn society, the humanitarian society and the youth Group of mutual help to issue regarding to the patriotic movement, and a united struggle after the "may 4th"movement. Between July and August, 1921,a member of the young China society Chen Yusheng's wife died, and buried here, and rent two rooms in the name of taking care of the grave, which were actually used as a place to engage secret revolutionary activities by comrades of Deng Zhongxia,Yun Daiying,and GaoJunyu in the period between 1921-1923.
Today's Taoranting Park still retains many ancient traces. On the ground-shaped islet in between the Eastern and the Western lakes stands the Temple of Mercy, built on a raised rocky platform during the Yuan Dynasty. The temple is a standard traditional quadrangle (sihe) courtyard with pavilions on the east, south, west and north. The western and northern pavilions each had three rooms. The western pavilion was the original Taoranting.
As a historical and cultural park, Taoranting Park is a mixture of ancient construction styles and modern park design. It is also one of the first national tourist sites of AAAA level.
Surrounding Taoran Pavilion were many famous historical sites .To the northwest of the pavilion was Dragon Tree Temple, which was as famous as Taoran Pavilion in late Qing Dynasty and many celebrities, visited here. Others were Black Dragon Pool, King Dragon Pavilion, Nezha Temple, Plun Blossom Garden, and Zu Garden that were located to the east or west respectively. To the north was Yao Tai Tea house, and to the mortheast were fragrant Tomb etc. Most of these historical sites had a longer history than Taoran Pavilion, and even earlier than the Mercy Nunnery. Famous Poems and calligraphers often came here and left many famous poems and calligraphy works.
The site that covered the Black Dragon Pond the east, Dragon Spring Temple in the west, Nanheng Street in the north and the city wall in the south later became an attraction for tourists from far away and those scholars who came to the nations capital for imperial civil examinations.
Most famous at the site was the Plum Garden northeast of the Garden of Ecstasy and northwest of the Black Dragon Pond.
Northwest of the Taoran Pavilion Park was an ancient garden, the Garden of the Feng's, built in 1122, the sixth year of the reign of Emperor Tianfu of the Jin Dynasty and declined in 1722, the 61st year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi. Though it decayed, some of the ancient pine trees still stood, attracting many a poet.
Most outstanding of the gardens sights was the grotesque formation of Taihu Lake rocks designed by Zhang Ran of Huating. Zhang Ran designed the rock formations at such famous imperial gardens as the Yingtai at Zhongnanhai, Changchunyuan (later the Summer Palace) and Yuquan Hill.
Northwest of the Garden of Ecstasy and southeast of the Dragon Spring Temple was an ancient temple called Longzhuahuai noted for two Dragon Claw Chinese scholar trees.
The current earthen mound on the north of today's Taoranting Park was the site of an imperial kiln called Black Kiln. It made ordinary bricks and tiles for the building of imperial palaces during the reign of Emperor YongLe of the Ming. As feudal emperors who had superstitious ideas about Fengshui forbade excavation of soil for brick making in the imperial city proper, the kiln had to get its soil from the sandy hill.
As its historical and cultural values, there are several important poets that had left their poems and calligraphies.
Famous Tang poet Bai Juyis poem:
When the chrysanthemums turn yellow and wine is made,
Lo! my dear friend,
Lets drink to our hearts content and be drunken away
Cao Zhenji, a poet of the Qing, once sang of the garden:
When the plum has not yet come to bloom,
I invite friends to come;
The leaves falling like in dreams,
We toast under the pine tree.
At the gate of the temple was a calligraphic work in gold of Taoran by Jiang Zao and on the temple wall were inset with a rock carving, Ode to Taoranting that sang in the last two verses:
Sorry that I'm not a painter
To draw a picture of listening to the cascading spring
In deep Autumn night.
The temple wall was also inset with the calligraphic work Urban Forest by Wang Yushu.
The gravestone is inscribed with a poem by his girlfriend Shi Pingmei:
I'm the sword,
I'm the fire,
I will live like a lightning,
Die like a fleeting star.
The couple were buried in the grave when Shi Pingmei died.