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History of gates of Nanhaizi Royal Garden

Updated: 2021-08-20

In 1414, when the royal garden of Nanhaiziwas built, the gates were built in the north, east, south, and west.

These gates were all painted red and were called Beihongmen, Nanhongmen, Donghongmen and Xihongmen --- All being named after the "hongmen" (red gate in mandarin).

In the early Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the fruits and vegetables grown in Nanhaizi had to be transported to the imperial palace.

For the convenience of entering the palace, a new gate, Xiaohongmen, was opened on the east side of Beihongmen, which is later referred to as Dahongmen.

In 1685, Emperor Kangxi added four more gates, namely Shuangqiao Gate, Huicheng Gate, Huangcun Gate, and Zhenguo Temple Gate, to the original five gates, together forming nine gates, which also means supremacy.

During Kangxi's reign, the hunting and military exercises held by the Qing court in Nanhaizi (renamed Nanyuan in the Qing Dynasty) became more and more frequent. The Emperor often visited here and so it became a forbidden garden for civilians.

Therefore, the security here became very important, and the guarding of the nine gates a top priority.

According to historial documents, the nine gates in Nanhaizi had a total of 10 leaders, 18 cavalries, 36 door keepers, and 90 armoured soilders, totaling 154 people.

Outside Nanhaizi, a "wall patrol and horse track" was specially built, and cavalries patrolled day and night. To this day, the place name Horse Track remains to the east of Xiaohongmen.

From the beginning of the Qing Dynasty to Jiaqing, the Qing empire turned from prosperity to decline, civil strife raged, and there were frequent incidents.

Every gate of Nanhaizi (Nanyuan) had to increase its guard.

Due to the important defensive responsibilities, defensive personnel were selected from the most reliable "plain yellow banner, bordered yellow banner, and plain white banner" groups.

Over time, Manchu natural villages formed here, which are called Menlitou by the locals.

Until now, these natural villages are still inhabited by many Manchus, most of whom are descendants of those guardians.

As time passed, the original Nanhai Royal Garden was annihilated, leaving only the place names: Xiaohongmen, Dahongmen and Xihongmen.