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Beijing, China Overview
Beijing is the cultural and political capital of the People's Republic of China. This ancient city has remained a constant throughout the many incarnations of the Chinese nation, a history stretching back over 5000 years.
The history of modern Beijing, however, began in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan built his fortress city Khanbaliq amongst the ashes of Yanjing 每 the Liao Dynasty capital that he burned to the ground in 1215.
Beijing remained the centre of power throughout the reigns of the succeeding Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties 每 most of the last 800 years. After the Nationalist Government in Nanjing was replaced by the Communist Party in 1949, Mao Zedong made his capital in Beijing; famously announcing the birth of the People's Republic of China in Tiananmen Square on October 1, 1949.
Beijing's lengthy and diverse history can be seen on the streets of Beijing, in the variety of monuments and palaces built by emperors and governments over the centuries. Beijing is one of the world's most iconic cities; full of must-see sights for all first-time visitors to the Middle Kingdom.
Beijing City Attractions
The Temple of Heaven is situated in the southern part of the city. It was built in 1420, encompassing 273 hectares (674 acres). The perimeter of the Temple of Heaven is 6,369 metres with 6 metres high.
The temple was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven and prayed for good harvests. They came here twice a year, on the 15th day fo the 1st lunar month and on Winter Solstice. At first both heaven and earth were worshipped here. After 1530 when the Temple Earth was bulit in the northern suburbs, only heaven was worshipped in this temple.
The Temple of Heaven is regarded as one of the greatest architectural structures in the world. Some environmental artists and gardeners describe the temple as a place where people can talk to the heaven. In Beijing, four imperial temples were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). At the southern end of the city axies is the Temple of Heaven. It is the most important of the four. The other three are the Altar of the Earth in the north, the Altar of the Moon in the west, and the Altar of Sun in the east just behind the Beijing Friendship Store. All of them are buildings of its kind in China, nearly four times larger than the Frobidden city. The whole building complex was designed in a way that makes you feel close to heaven. In making the heaven-like structures, the designers square, and changes in height. The combination of building and garden helps make it appear myterious and magical.
The temple's architecture has two themes. One is "on the earth," while the other is "in the heaven". The square-shaped palace for fasting in the west of the temple appears like a "forbidden city"in smaller size. The circular shaped Qiniandian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests ) and Huangqiu (Circular Mound Altar) are though to have been connected with heaven. This symbolizes the second theme, which dominates the whole temple.
In imperial days, the Chinese people believed that the sky was in circular shape and the earth was square. On the basis of this traditional concept, the circle was widely adopted in the design of the temple's main buildings. It is in accord with people's imagination of heaven.
In ancient China, sacrifice to heaven by people has history of about 5,000 years. It originated from natural worship. People thought that everything was dominated by heaven due to underdeveloped science in ancient China. Ancient Chinese hoped that heaven could help them by sacrifice. This objectively reflected the people's wishes to nature. But Emperor regarded sacrifice to heaven as his patent and tried to consolidate his rule through sacrifice to heaven. In ancient China dozens of temples of heaven were built and only the Temple of Heaven in Beijing is still standing. It is the largest architectural group of buildings and unique in the world today. The Republic of China (1912-1949) in 1912 abolished the activities of sacrificing to heaven. It was open to the public in 1919.
2. The Forbidden City
The Palace Museum, known as the Forbidden City in the West, was the imperial palaces of the Ming and Qing dynasties. In early 15th century, large-scale construction involved 100,000 artisans and one million civilians. The construction took 14 years and was finished in 1420. In the following year, the captial of the Ming Dynasyt was moved from Nanjing to Beijing. Twenty-four emperors- "Sons of Heaven" of the Ming and Qing dynasties rules from the Forbidden City. The last dynasty fell in 1911, but Emperor Puyi still lived in the inner court. It was not until 1925 that the complex was converted into a museum. Since then the palace has been opened to the public. The Forbidden City is a national architectural treasure.
The Palace Museum is located in the centre of Beijing, covering an area of 72 hectares(720,000 square metres) with more than 90 courtyards of various sizes. It is rectangular in shape, 961 metres long from north to south and 753 metres wide from east to west. There is a 3428-metre-long and 10-metre-high wall, encircled by a 3,800-metre-long and 52-metre wide moat, In the Ming Dynasty, the timber needed for builiding the palace was brought mostly from Sicuan, Hunan and Guizhou provinces, while in the Qing Dynasty, it was cut from northeast China. Most of the stones were quarried from the suburban district of Fangshan and other districts. Construction of the Forbidden City brough tremendous hardship to the laboring people.
The palace is the largest piece of ancient Chinese architecture still standing some of the buildings were damaged by lighting and rebulit in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The palace had been expanded several times, but the original layourt was preserved.
3. Juyongguang Section of the Great wall & Juyong Pass
Juyong Pass, bulilt in 1368, and together with Zijing Pass and Daoma Pass were called the "Inner Three Passes" along the Great Wall.
Juyong(Dwelling-in-Harmony) Pass, also known as Jundu Pass orJimen Pass, is an important strategic gateway leading to Inner Mongolia. The slopes on both sides of this narrow pass are carpeted by a dense growth of foliage. It used to be one of the eight famous scenic spots in Beijing. After five years of renovation, the famous Juyongguan section of the Great Wall opened to tourists in late march 1998. A total of 120 million yuan was spent on the renovation of 4,142 metre-long section of the Great Wall. The 20-kilometre-long ravine, so that a few men could hold it against all comers, named Guanggou(Pass Ravine), flanked by mountains, was the norhtern entrace to Beijing in ancient times. The whole area is full of high mountains and narrow passes which are easily defensible. But the cavalrymen of Genghis Khan swept throught it in the 13th century. The Yuan emperors had to travel through the ravine every year to their summer resort in Inner Mongolia, staying overnight here a Juyonguan Pass. Enterning the Pass, you will see an ancient platform known as Cloud Terrace, built in 1245, and made of marble. It was called the Crossing street Dagoba, since its arch spanned the main street of the pass. There were formerly there dagobas on the top of the terrace. Unfortunately they collapsed along with the nearby imperial residence and other religious bulidings during an early 15th centruy earthquake. Later on, a new temple was bulit on the site, but it was also destroyed in the early years of the Qing Dynasty. Now only the terrace remains. The terrace is 9.5 metres high, its width is 26.84 metres and the lenght of the cave is 17.57metes.
4. Beihai Park
Built in the 10th century, Beihai Park is one of China＊s largest and most famous parks. Up until 1911 it was connected to the Forbidden City, but since the founding of the Chinese Republic it has been open to the public.
The park includes many famous landmarks, including Yong＊an Temple and Chanfu Temple. A highlight is also the towering Bai Ta 每 a spectacular white stupa that sits on the highest point on Qi車nghu芍 Island.
The Ming Dynasty Five-Dragon Pavilions sits on the north bank. Consisting of five connected pavilions with spires and pointed upswept eaves, it is a spectacular example of the magnificence in which residents of the Forbidden City whiled away their days. North of the Pavilion lies the Nine Dragon Wall 每 one of only three glazed-brick walls of its kind in China.
Beihai Park is a public treasure, and one of the great sights of Beijing. No visit to the city would be complete without a walk within its magnificent grounds.
5. The Capital Museum
The Capital Museum is one of Beijing＊s most celebrated art museums. Originally opened in 1981, it relocated to the current site in the late 1990s and expanded to include items from the Confucius Temple on Beijing＊s Guozijian Road. The resulting collection is renowned internationally as one of the finest collections of traditional Chinese works in existence.
Today, the museum houses over 200,000 pieces, although only a handful of these are exhibited at any given time. A vast majority of these pieces are sources locally, making this a definitive collection of Beijing＊s cultural heritage.
6. The Lama Temple
The Yonghe Temple is a temple and monastery of the Geluk School of Tibetan Buddhism. It is one of the most revered sites in international Buddhism as well as being a architectural novelty known for its unique blend of Chinese and Tibetan styles.
The temple was built in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty to serve as an official residence for court eunuchs. In 1722, half of the building was converted into a lamasery, a monastery for monks of Tibetan Buddhism.
The building is home to many pieces of religious art. The central Hall of Harmony and Peace houses three bronze statues of the Buddhas of the Three Ages: the statue of the Gautama Buddha (Buddha of the Present) isthe statue of Kasyapa Matanga (Buddha of the Past) and the Maitreya Buddha (Buddha of the Future). The hall also includes statues of the 18 Arhats and a mural of bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
7. Water Cube
Neighboring the Bird Nest stadium, the Water Cube served as venue for the water events at the Beijing Olympics of 2008. Known officially as the National Aquatics Center (NAC), it took over four years to construct and features a vast array of revolutionary design features and construction techniques.
The Water Cube Games-time covers 80,000 square meters, contains 17,000 standard seats, including 6,000 permanent seats and 11,000 temporary ones. Following the success of the Beijing Olympics the building has been converted into a multi-functional facility for sports, culture and recreation. This will allow the venue to be used for domestic and international sporting events when required, while allowing full public access to a magnificent facility.
8. The Bird Nest
Created for the Beijing Olympics of 2008, the Bird Nest is a modern marvel of design and iconic presence on Beijing＊s northern ring road. Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the stadium has a revolutionary design, which was chosen through an international competition.
Its outer skeleton consists of 42,000 tons of steel, and an inner 'skin' of double-layered plastic which keeps out wind and rain and filters out UVA light. It is designed to last for 100 years and withstand a force eight magnitude earthquake.
The 91,000-seater venue includes a four-star hotel with 80 rooms under one of its sides, a gourmet restaurant with views of the athletics track, and a twin-level underground shopping centre. It is renowned as one of the most environmentally-friendly stadiums in the world, with a complex system of under soil geothermal pipes used to heat indoor parts of the stadium, and irrigation carried out using rainwater collected in vast underground tanks.
9. The Ruins of Yuanmingyuan
Yuanmingyuan was described as the "Versailles of the East" by French writer Victor Hugo during its heyday. Visitors today can also testify to its magnificent beauty. It was an imperial summer resort that was built in stages during the reign of the five emperors of the Qing Dynasty.
Located in the northern part of Haidian District, Yuanmingyuan is made up of three smaller gardens: Yuanmingyuan, Changchunyuan and Qichunyuan. All offer a superb collection of plant and birdlife, as well as outstanding examples of classic Chinese garden designs.
In earlier times, Yuanmingyuan was an imperial museum with a vast collection of treasures. It housed countless rare cultural relics and precious ancient books such as The Complete Library of Four Branches of Books, Gems of the Complete Library of Four Branches of Books, and The Completed Collection of Graphs and Writings of Ancient and Modern Times. Sadly, the garden and its treasures didn＊t survive the ravages of wars and conflicts throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
A long period of rejuvenation resulted in the park reopening to the public in June 1988.
10. Tiananmen Square
The heart of modern China beats in Tiananmen Square, the symbol of the People's Republic and the center of Beijing's landmarks. The flagstones of Tiananmen cover a staggering 440,000 square meters, enough space for a gathering of a million people.
The Tiananmen Gate Tower sites at the north while the Five-Star Red Flag and the Monument to the People's Heroes dominates the center. You can visit The Great Hall of the People in the west and then go to the east for the National Museum of China. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Qianmen gate sits at the south of the square. Over several hundred years, many meetings and demonstrations are held here making it a place where history is made. The Square is listed as one of Beijing's top tourist spots attracting tens of thousands of people daily.
These Ming tombs, situated 50 kilometres to the north of Beijing, are the final resting place of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. It was originally built only as the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di and his Empresses Chang Ling. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around this central point. Only the Chang Ling and Ding Ling tombs are open to the public here. Chang Ling, the main attraction of the Ming Tombs, is the largest in scale and is perfectly preserved and covers an impressive area of 1956 meters.
The other tomb open to the public is about 27 meters underground. It is the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun - the thirteenth emperor of the Ming Dynasty - and his two empresses. The main features are the Stone Bridge, Soul Tower, Baocheng and the Underground Place. The entire palace is made of stone and thus, is very stable. You can view the coffins of Emperor Zhu Yijun and his two empresses displayed with many rare and precious artefacts including the gold imperial crown.
12. Beijing Hutongs
The Beijing Hutong is a must-see attraction if you want to really get a feel for the rich history and culture of the city. Hutongs are lanes or alleys formed by lines of houses known as 'siheyuan' ; themselves compounds of houses around a courtyard where many generations of a family live together. These lanes can be anywhere between 40 centimetres to 10 meters wide with up to 20 turns or corners. Though the number of Hutongs in Beijing is rapidly decreasing, vast swathes of the city remain occupied, and many still carry names that date back to the families that occupied them centuries earlier. For example, the famous playwright Laoshe was born in a hutong in the west of Beijing. Laoshe was so fond of his childhood home that he his famous novel 'The Four Generations Under One Roof' in the hutongs. Hutong life has been catalogued and romanticised in many such books, operas and plays, yet it is not too late for visitors to sample it themselves. As well as touring the lanes during the daylight hours, ChinaSpringTour can offer booking services for a number of fantastic hutong hotels. Staying over night in one of these ancient courtyards, it is possible to soak up even more of Beijing's famous character.
13. The Summer Palace
In December 1998, the Summer Palace was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, proving that even after centuries of international renown this stunning palace was more valued and popular than ever. Surrounded by the picturesque landscape of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, the Summer Palace covers an area of 2.9 square kilometres, three quarters of which is water. This expansive lake freezes in the depth of winter, but at other times in the year can be traversed by boat. The 70,000 square meter building features numerous palaces, gardens and other ancient-style architectural structures. Because of its large and priceless collection of cultural artefacts, it was among the first cultural heritage sites in China to be placed under special state protection.
The Summer Palace was first constructed in 1750 but was destroyed and rebuilt several times. After the Anglo-French Allied Forces destroyed it in 1860, it was rebuilt and renamed Yihe Yuan or the Garden of Health and Harmony in 1886. It served as a summer resort for the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Summer Palace has also undergone several major renovations. It has many popular attractions such as the Four Great Regions, Suzhou Street, the Pavilion of Bright Scenery, the Hall of Serenity and the Wenchang Galleries. The Summer Palace is a monument to classical Chinese architecture, in terms of both garden design and construction. Incorporating scenes from surrounding landscapes, it radiates not only the grandeur of an imperial garden but also the beauty of nature so commonly incorporated into Chinese architectural styles.
14. Badaling section of the Great Wall
This part of the Great Wall was built in 1505 in Yanqing County, over 70 kilometres northwest of the Beijing city centre. Badaling, which means "giving access to every direction", is the best-preserved section of the Great Wall. It has a total length of 3, 741 meters with the highest part reaching 15 meters making it a formidable defensive barrier for the roaming warlords of the north. The wall at Badaling was built wide enough for five warhorses to stand shoulder-to-shoulder along.
This was the first section of the Great Wall to open to tourist following the liberation of 1949. Now visited annually by millions, this is the place that President Richard Nixon visited during his historic journey to China in 1972. It was also the part of the wall climbed by Mao Zedong and other 370 international dignitaries and celebrities.
15. Wangfujing Shopping Street
Wanfujing is located in Dongcheng District and is one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping streets. This pedestrianised city centre street is definitely part of modern Beijing, yet its commercial origins date back to the Ming Dynasty, where this piece of land was turned into Dong'an market.
Wangfujing is now home to around 280 stores, as well as the famous Night Market 每 a food street that offers a mind blowing array of rare delicacies. Among traditional noodle dishes, pancakes and kebabs, Wangfujiang also offers snacks from the more extreme fringes of Chinese culinary culture. Deep fried crickets, scorpions and star fish can be sampled here, alongside snake, rabbit and snails.
Beijing Food & Entertainment
1. "Legend of Kung Fu" Performance
A spectacle for the young and young at heart, this fantastic show tells the tale of Chun Yi, a young boy who dreams of becoming a kung-fu master. "Legend of Kung Fu" combines the background of kung-fu with a fun narrative and impressive stunts and props. You'll be on the edge of your seat.
Formed in 2005, D22 is not the original Beijing rock live house, but it is one that seems to have fostered the rise of Beijing music on to the world stage. Whilst this is a relatively compact venue, D22 invariably makes for a memorable night out.
Situated in the university district of Wudaokou, D22 services thousands of enthusiastic music lovers from surrounding campuses. In recent years, journalists from the New York Times, The Guardian and Time magazine have flocked here to report on what is internationally regarded as one of the most exciting explosions of youth culture in this millennium.
Live bands from Beijing and beyond play the D22 stage regularly, with most shows taking place over weekends. Though seating space is hard to come by, there is plenty of floor space and a second floor balcony from which it is possible to view the action.
As D22 is far away from other nightclub options, it is necessary to take a taxi to a second location. If you are looking for an alternative, the friendly staff and clientele will be happy to suggest other bars in the city, although you could do worse than stay here to enjoy their hospitality.
Address: 242 Chengfu Lu, Wudaokouhalf-way between Wudaokou Subway Station and Peking University East Gate
3. Gong Wangfu Theater
This wood structure has survived intact for more than 100 years. It houses a large stage and can seat over 200 spectators comfortably. The hall also boasts some of the best acoustics in town for Beijing Opera. Even when seated far from the stage, you can hear every note clearly. In fact, sipping tea is not the best reason to visit here, though the tea is fairly good. Enjoying the atmosphere of the ancient Gong Wangfu Theatre is more interesting than sipping the tea.
Address: Inside Prince Gong's Palace, A14, Liuyin Jie, Houhai
Beijing 4 Days Explore
D1: arrive in Beijing,you will greeted by your guide, who will then take you to the hotel.
D2: After breakfast, your guide will pick you up at the hotel and accompany you to the Tian＊anmen Square (about 50 minutes), which is the heart of modern China, the symbol of the People's Republic, and the center of Beijing's landmarks. The flagstones of Tian'anmen cover a staggering 440,000 square meters, enough space for a gathering of a million people.
Next you will proceed to Forbidden City (about 2 hours),the architectural wonder and world-famous attraction that lies in the center of Beijing, north of Tian'anmen Square. It was home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
En route, you will stop at the Pearl Store (about 45 minutes) to enjoy the distinctive Chinese pearl products and have some free shopping time.
After a Chinese lunch at a local restaurant, proceed to the Temple of Heaven (about 1 hour), built between 1409 and 1420. The Temple of Heaven is one of Beijing's most impressive parks in terms of architecture and significance. The temple was supposed to be the place where ruling emperors could communicate directly with heaven.
Next, you will proceed to Beihai Park (about 1 hour). Built in the 10th century, Beihai Park is one of China＊s largest and most famous parks. Up until 1911 it was connected to the Forbidden City, but since the founding of the Chinese Republic it has been open to the public.
D3:After breakfast, you will proceed to the Ming Tombs (about 1 hour), where you can tour the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644).
En route, you will stop at the Jade Store (about 45 minutes) to shop for souvenirs.
After a Chinese lunch at a local restaurant, your guide will pick you up at the hotel and accompany you to the Badaling section of the Great Wall (about 2 hours). Reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty, this region was a strategic point of defence against marauding northern tribes. Cable car fee is not included.
D4: After breakfast your guide will pick you up at the hotel and accompany you to the Summer Palace (about 1.5 hours). In December 1998, the Summer Palace was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, proving that even after centuries of international renown this stunning palace was more valued and popular than ever. The Summer Palace was first constructed in 1750 but was destroyed and rebuilt several times. After the Anglo-French Allied Forces destroyed it in 1860, it was rebuilt and renamed Yihe Yuan or the Garden of Health and Harmony in 1886. It served as a summer resort for the Empress Dowager Cixi.
Then you will go to an iconic landmark of Beijing＊s recent history: the ＆Birdnest＊ Olympic Stadium, and the neighbouring ＆Watercube＊ (about 1 hour).
En route, you will stop at the Beijing Cloisonn谷 Store for some free shopping time.
After a Chinese lunch at a local restaurant, you will move on to enjoy the Beijing Hutong Tour (about 1 hour) The Hutong＊s are traditional housing system and ＆must-see＊ attraction if you want to really get a feel for the rich history and culture of the city.
Next, you will continue to the famous Wangfujing Street (about 1 hour). Wanfujing is located in Dongcheng District and is one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping streets. This pedestrianised city centre street is definitely part of modern Beijing, yet its commercial origins date back to the Ming Dynasty, where this piece of land was turned into Dong'an market.