The grandson of the even more dominant Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan conquered China and established the Yuan dynasty in 1271. He chose what is now Běihǎi Park as the site of his palace. All that remains of his former home is a large jar made of green jade dating from 1265 in the Round City (Tuán Chéng) near the park’s southern entrance.
The Round City houses the Hall of Divine Light (aka Chéngguāng Hall; Chéngguāng Diàn), where a 1.5m tall white jade jewel-encrusted statue of Sakyamuni from Myanmar (Burma) can be found. The side pavilions host temporary cultural exhibitions.
The park in general, though, has been associated with the centre of power of China since the 10th century, when it was laid out as an imperial garden. Even now, it remains as close to the nerve centre of the country as you are likely to get.