Virtual reality, real enjoyment at Old Summer Palace

Visitors to China’s Old Summer Palace can now look beyond the physical bricks and mortar and see Yuanming Yuan (圓明園) in its original glory.
Digital restoration of the place is finally completed after 15 years’ work – researching historical documents, completing thousands of drawings and digital models – by an 80-member Chinese team, to give visitors fuller appreciation of the Old Imperial Gardens through virtual reality technology.
Visitors pay RMB30 (P220) for the virtual reality gear to view the Palace complex, which includes changes to the structures over time: seven in all through the reign of five emperors.
The digital restoration covers 60 percent of the grounds. The rest could not be reconstructed due to lack of historical data.
Not to be confused with the Summer Palace (頤和園), the Old Summer Palace is a complex of palaces and gardens in what is now Beijing’s Haidian District, eight kilometers away from the former Imperial City quarters.
It was built during the 18th and 19th centuries during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to become the main imperial residence of the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799) and his successors.
The Old Summer Palace was generally considered the ultimate in Chinese imperial garden and palace design.
At its peak, the Old Summer Palace was reputedly the Garden of Gardens (萬園之園).

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