Kunming Lake covers an area of about three forth of the total area of the Summer Palace. It was once called Wengshan Lake because Longevity Hill was called Wengshan.Kunming Lake and Longevity Hill, two scenic spots that are among the many to see at Beijing’s famous Summer Palace, were built complement each other.
During the Ming Dynasty, a large number of lotus flowers were planted in the lake. In the surrounding area were rice paddies, temples, pavilions and other finely built structures, creating a great view that resembled the landscape of south China. For this reason it became known as the West Lake, after its namesake in the southern city of Hangzhou. With construction of the Garden of Clear Ripples during Emperor Qianlong’s reign (1736-1795), the lake was expanded to its current size. Emperor Qianlong then named it “Kunming”.