Gong Wang Fu, or Prince Gong’s Mansion, or Prince Kung's Mansion, was a Qing Dynasty imperial residence that has since been converted into an excellent museum. Built in 1777, the mansion belonged to several members of the imperial family over the years, but it got its current name from the sixth son of the Guangxu emperor, Prince Gong.
Gong Wang Fu is one of the best preserved imperial mansions in Beijing, and about half of it is open to the public. Of particular interest are the 7-acre (28,000-square-meter) traditional Chinese ornamental gardens, filled with pavilions, ponds and winding paths. A stage in the middle of the garden hosts Beijing opera and orchestral performances throughout the day.
For anyone interested in Qing architecture, a stop at Gong Wang Fu is a necessity. Since it’s a wildly popular attraction for domestic tourists, try to plan your visit first thing in the morning when the ticket office opens so you’ll have a chance to enjoy the gardens in peace before the buses pull up.