Monday, January 2, 2017

A Neighborhood Park

Yuandadu Relics Park, Beijing, China (May 27, 2016)

The last day of the meeting we finished early enough that I had the late afternoon free for a stroll in the Haidian district, where my hotel was located. I decided to go to what looked like a nice neighborhood park, along a canal in-between the 3rd and 4th ring roads.

Prosperous Dadu Sculpture
As many things in China, the park turned out to be huge! With a total length of 9 km, the Yuandadu Relics Park is the largest zonal park in Beijing. In this late Friday afternoon I visited it was very well frequented by the people living in the district. Many families and retirees, walking around or sitting on the benches reading a book or playing an instrument. And a large crowd very committed in watching what looked like some sort of gambling activity based on cards. The canal along which the park is established, as well as the many fountains in the park, were drained for maintenance the day I visited; they must be quite a view when the water is flowing. The park has many fruit trees that were being harvested by the park visitors; something that I am not used to see in the West but makes perfect sense if you think about it (why wasting perfectly good fruit?).

The name of the park derives by it location, on the grounds that were once occupied by the walls of Dadu (also known as Khanbaliq), the ancient capital city of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1378). Many of the ruins are still preserved, and there are several sculpture groups celebrating the past glory of the site.  The main sculpture (small photo above) represent the Yuan emperor Shizu (also known as Kublai Khan) in his howdah. He is surrounded by the the great astronomer Guo Shoujing, the Nepalese architect Araniko and the Italian traveler Marco Polo: who would have thought that I would have found a piece of Italy in the core of Beijing?

Yuandadu Relics Park, Beijing, China (May 27, 2016)

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