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Ruins of Old Summer Palace brought back to life

At the mention of Yuanmingyuan Garden, or the Old Summer Palace, crumbling walls and ruins come to mind. Now visitors can see how it looked before it was destroyed.

The Garden located in northwest of Beijing was first constructed in 1709 during the reign of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Over the next 150 years it was expanded, covering a total of 350 hectares.

Hundreds of scenic spots of exquisitely constructed halls, pavilions, rock hills and ponds were constructed. It was called the 'garden of gardens' or the 'Versailles of the East' in Europe during that era.

However, it was looted and burned down by Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, leaving only ruins and wild weed.

Now a digital system recreates the scene before it was demolished. The system will be released on National Day (Oct 1) and tourists can download an app through which they can see recovered landscapes.

"The landscapes are based on historical records and archaeological findings," said Sun Huijiao, a member of the system's design team. Currently 33 landscapes can be viewed.

"Those who want to experience the digital system before the official launch can rent an iPad at the ticket office and use it at the sites," said Cao Yuming, head of the garden.

People can also download the app at home and enjoy a virtual tour of the garden.