Initially, the mansion belonged to Heshen, a corrupt official, but about twenty years after its construction it was transferred to Prince Gong, hence the name. It's also known as Prince Kung's Mansion and Gong Wang Fu in Chinese. The mansion has a large scale with an area of about 6 hectares (15 acres) and is composed of two parts—gardens and houses. There are more than 30 building groups inside with exquisite layout and extraordinary style.
As this mansion witnessed the historical progress of the Qing Dynasty from its peak to its demise, it carries extremely rich historical and cultural value. Therefore, people say that one mansion of Prince Gong can tell half of the Qing Dynasty history. After 28 years of renovation works, the mansion opened its doors to tourists.
The Prince Gong's Mansion is located west of Shichahai Lake, which reflects geomantic omen. According to the geomancy, there are two dragon veins in Beijing. One is where the Forbidden City is located, and another is at the line of Beihai and Houhai. The mansion is nestled exactly between Beihai and Houhai, which places it is on one of the dragon veins. Its road can be divided into three parts—middle, east, and west road. Each of them has several Siheyuans, traditional Chinese courtyards housed on all four sides.
In spring, the garden provides visitors with a lush view and pleasant weather. In autumn, from mid-October to mid-November, Beijing dresses into yellow and red colors thanks to ginkgo trees. Summers tend to be hot and humid, so it's not the best time to explore the mansion's gardens.
Also, if you go to the mansion in winter, the snow-covered houses would be a breathtaking scene. However, Beijing is a dry city and it does not snow that often over there. You should check the weather in advance to make sure that you would witness snowfalls to capture great images.
Prince Gong's Mansion offers its visitors an immersive museum experience to let them get a deep understanding of the cultural significance of the place. The visiting program includes a full tour of the mansion, tea ceremony, typical Bejing treats sampling, and traditional folklore performances. Curious minds will enjoy the exhibition on the Qing Dynasty history that features replicas and photos of cultural artifacts.