Built in 1777, Gong Wang Fu (Prince Gong’s Mansion) is one of the best preserved imperial mansions in Beijing, and it has been turned into an excellent museum. Be sure to visit the ornamental gardens, featuring pavilions, ponds, and winding paths. A central stage hosts Beijing opera and orchestral performances throughout the day.
Visitors will enjoy wandering through the rockeries and pavilions, and stopping by the Grand Opera House for a Chinese opera or acrobatic performance. The gardens cover nearly 7 acres (2.8 hectares). Though it’s possible to visit independently, you can save time and hassle by joining a guided tour of the Beijing hutongs that includes time to explore the mansion, as well as a live drum performance at the nearby Drum Tower. Things to Know Before You Go
When to Get There
- Gong Wang Fu is a must-visit for architecture and history buffs, as well as those interested in traditional Chinese gardens.
- Allow about two hours to explore the mansion and gardens.
- The mansion is wheelchair accessible.
- How to Get There
- If you’re visiting the mansion independently, take the Beijing subway (Line 6) to Beihai North and leave through Exit B. From there it’s a 5-minute walk north to the entrance. Several local buses also stop at nearby Beihai Bei Men Station.
Because the mansion is a wildly popular attraction for domestic tourists, try to visit first thing in the morning when the ticket office opens, so you’ll have a chance to enjoy the gardens in peace before the buses pull up. The summer months tend to be busier.
Shichahai Scenic Area
Gong Wang Fu sits just north of Beijing’s Shichahai scenic area, known for its picturesque lakes and traditional courtyard residences in neighborhoods known as hutongs. During the Yuan Dynasty, the neighborhood was situated at the terminus of the Great Canal, which helped its residents to prosper. Besides Gong Wang Fu, the neighborhood is also home to the former residence of Song Qingling, Guanghua Temple, and the former home of Mei Lan Fang.