Grand View Garden is a real-life replica of the garden described in Dream of the Red Chamber, a classic Chinese novel. The garden is a full-size replicated landscape garden that was built in 1984 in southwest Beijing. It was built in order to film a television series based on the novel.
Dream of Red Mansions (红楼梦 Hónglóu Mèng), written by Cao Xueqin in the 18th century, is rated the best novel of the Qing dynasty. The novel tells a tragic love-story in a noble family and is called by Westerners as the Romeo and Juliet of China. The hero - Jia Baoyu is an amorous and sentimental son of a noble official. The novel describes the rise and decline of Jia Family. In an imaginative and humorous style, the author has portrayed more than 400 dramatis personae with distinctive traits, representing the daily life of a distinguished Manchu family.
Concubine Yuan, a character of 'A Dream of Red Mansions', married the emperor and was crowned as the highest-ranking imperial concubine. Grand View Garden in 'A Dream of Red Mansions' was built for her to visit her parents and relatives.
For lovers of the original book or television show, Grand View Garden is a must-see location. Fans of the piece of literature rave not only over the accuracy of the garden construction, but also in how it manages to bring the novel to life for them. For those who have not been exposed to the TV show or novel, it is still a beautiful and relaxing park to visit in Beijing.
The garden and its 40 plus scenic locations stretch across more than 32 acres. Its design closely follows the description revealed in the book and includes a variety of buildings, including multiple courtyards, palaces, water features, a nunnery, cloisters and pavilions.
The courtyards, in particular, were each created to represent the residences of the Jia family members from the novel.
The landscape is scattered with trees, flowers, stones, lakes and wildlife, including birds and deer.
There is also a museum on the property, The Beijing Red Mansion Culture and Art Museum, where you can find out more information about the garden itself and the novel.
The scenery in Grand View Garden is very similar to that of the Summer Palace: both of them consist of some pavilions, towers, temples and lakes. However, Grand View Garden is much smaller than the Summer Palace. If you have already been to the Summer Palace and are not very familiar with 'A Dream of Red Mansions', there will be no need for you to visit Grand View Garden.
Temple fairs are held in Grand View Garden every year in the Spring Festival, between the first and the sixth days of the lunar calendar. Activities include: art performances, various folk activities such as stilts performances, land boating, yangko and lion dances; there are also all kinds of snacks available.
Among them, the ancient costume parade of "Concubine Yuan visiting her parents and relatives" is a traditional activity and a unique representation of the cultural temple fairs of Grand View Garden. About 100 people wear gorgeous costumes. They form an ancient "guard of honor" to accompany and escort Concubine Yuan, which reproduces the grand occasion when Concubine Yuan returned to Grand View Garden from the palace to visit her parents and relatives.
In addition, on every August 15th of the Chinese lunar calendar, the "Night of the Mid-Autumn Festival of Beijing Grand View Garden" is held. The activities mainly consist of art performances, moon watching, get-togethers, and admiring the night scenery. It lasts for three to four days every year.
If you are visiting the garden during the day, entrance is only 40 yuan and the hours of admission are between 7:30 AM and 5:30 PM; tickets are not sold after 5 PM. If you would like to attend the night water features sound and light show, entrance is 70 yuan and is from 6 to 9 PM.
To visit Grand View Garden, a tour guide is of great importance. This is because all of the attractions there have been built based on the Grand View Garden in 'A Dream of Red Mansions'. If you lack the background knowledge, you will fail to grasp its essence.
There are performances throughout the year, but if you want to see a spectacular event, it is best to visit in September for the Mid-Autumn Festival or in February for Chinese New Year or the Spring Festival. At these festivals you will see a variety of artistic performances and different traditional snacks will be available.
If you are in the garden and get hungry, the Grand View Garden Restaurant is a peaceful setting for a delicious meal.
The area around the garden is mainly for business purposes and tourists will not find much to do. There are, however, several restaurants within walking distance such as the Mingyuan Tea House, Nanlaishun Restaurant and the Nine-headed Bird Restaurant.
While the area is full of businesses, there are some other nearby parks that visitors may go and see such as Taoranting Park, Wanfangting Park and Wanshou Park. All of these parks are within 5 kilometers of Grand View Garden and are lovely places to go for a walk and relax.