|Towns and Cities Of China|
The venerated Chinese history has strewn the land of Beijing with sites of cultural and historical interest. Some of them, such as the Great Wall, Former imperial Palace, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and the ruins of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, are UNESCO-endorsed world cultural heritage sites. Imperial palaces, mansions, gardens and tombs are epitomes of classical Chinese architecture.
Among the massive number of ancient buildings that have remained to this day are quite a few Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples and Catholic churches, such as Yonghegong Lamasery and Big Bell Temple. There are 120 museums worth seeing,
including Museum of Chinese History and China Art Gallery. Over 100 gardens are open to the public. As behooves an international metropolis, Beijing's skyline looks splendid with a jungle of tall buildings in varied and distinct styles. Chinese Ethnic Culture Park and Central TV Tower are among Beijing's recent crop of landmarks. You will not be disappointed if you have time to spare for a visit to the suburbs, where the scenery holds forth the fascination of sequestered repose and unperturbed serenity.
Former Imperial Palace
The 720,000-square-metre Palace Mueum, better known as "Forbidden City", was the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing. Built during the 1406-1420 period, it is the largest royal palatial complex in existence in China; ranging from the majestic to the exquisite, they bear witness to a nation in transition. Other tourist attractions on the premises include a huge stone ramp carved with intricate dragon and cloud patterns, Imperial Garden and Nine-Dragon Screen Wall. An immense trove of cultural artifacts and treasures of various dynasties, some of them on display in the Treasure Hall and the ceramics, painting, bronze ware galleries, are reason enough for UNESCO to adopt the Former Imperial Palace as a world cultural heritage site.
Temple of Heaven
China's largest temple and altar are found in Temple of Heaven, part of a 273 hectare park in Chongwen District today. Built in 1420, it was where Ming and Qing monarchs prayed for good harvests. Major structures are hall of Prayer for good Harvest, Imperial Vault of Heaven, Circular Altar, and Abstinence Palace. UNESCO endorsed Temple of Heaven as a world cultural heritage site in December 1998.
Beihai Park, situated to the northwest of Palace Museum, is a typical imperial garden dating back to more than 800 years ago. Buildings are clustered around the famed White Pagoda on Qionghua (Jasper Flower) Island on the lake in the park's bosom. The island provides a vantage point for observing the landscape of Beijing. Major attractions are Circular City, Painted Boat Studio, Studio of the Tranquil Heart, Nine-Dragon Screen Wall and Five-Dragon Pavilions.
As an emblem of Chinese civilization, a cultural phenomenon of world caliber, and another UNESCO=endorsed world cultural heritage site, the 6350km Great Wall was in China's feudal years a mammoth defense bulwark that serpentines its way across mountains and valleys in the northern part of the country. The Great Wall came under construction in the 7th century BC. But it was Qinshihuang, the founding emperor of the Qin, who brought it to completion. Repeated extensions were done in later dynasties until the Ming. The 600-year-old Badaling Fortification in Yanqing county in northwest Beijing is representative of Ming sections of the Great Wall. The Great Wall looks equally breathtaking at such sections as Jinshanling, Mutianyu and Simatai.
As a paragon of Chinese gardens, this huge garden includes Longevity Hill, whose beauty is set off by a multitude of halls, kiosks and trees, and Kunming Lake, a huge body of liquid silver. Major tourist attractions are Tower of Buddhist Incense, 17-Span Bridge, Long Gallery, Cloud Dispelling Hall, Marble Boat, Beamless Hall, Garden of Harmonious Delights, the theatre in the Garden of Moral Harmony, and Suzhou Street. The entire place is a de facto museum of China's classical architecture. Housed in these buildings are an immense collection of treasures and cultural artifacts.
Thirteen Ming Tombs
The Ming Tombs are scattered over an area 40km in circumference in Changping County. Thirteen Ming emperors who ruled China after they moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing were buried there. The largest is the Changling, built in 1413 for the remains for Zhu Di or Emperor Chengzu. Burial objects are on display from the underground palace of the Dingling, the tomb of the last Ming emperor, Zhu Yijun, and his two empresses. The Holy Way leading to the Ming Tombs is flanked on both sides by 30-odd men and horses and other animals carved in graphic images out of massive boulders. In terms of size, this group of stone sculptures is rare anywhere in China.
Yonghegong (Palace of Harmony and Peace) in Eastern District had been the mansion of Emperor Yongzheng during his days as the crown prince. After he ascended the throne he had it converted into a lamasery, which has remained as such to this day. Influences of Han, Manchurian, Mongolian and Tibetan architecture are palpable in this complex that consists of three finely crafted archways and five imposing halls laid out tastefully over an area of 66,400 square meters. Among the treasures in these halls is a 26-metre-tall statue of Maitreya (the Smiling Buddha), which is carved out of a single sandalwood trunk.
Tour of Hutongs
Hutong s are back alleys where old traditions remain very much alive and kicking. There are about 4,550 of them in Beijing, ubiquitous in these hutongs are quadrangle dwellings. Close by prince Gong's Mansion are some of Beijing's best-preserved hutongs. Touring these hutongs by the traditional pedicab is a special travel program of Beijing.
Prince Gong's Mansion
Situated in Liuyin Street in the Scenic neighborhood of Shishahai, Prince Gong's Mansion is the best preserved of all princely mansions of the Qing in Beijing. Attached to the rear of this pompous mansion is a serene garden with well-manicured lawns. A theatre stands on the premises, where traditional ballad-singing and story-telling performances are given every day.
Zhoukoudian-Home of Peking Man
An abundance of paleo-fossils has been unearthed along with ruins of the world's earliest fire-using primitive man, Peking Man, at Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District of Beijing, None of these finds, however, are more important than the fossils of Peking Man and Upper Cave Man and more than 10,000 stone tools, which qualify Zhoukoudian as a world cultural heritage site. A Peking Man exhibition on the spot is visited everyday by tourists from both at home and abroad.
Other Attraction in Beijing
The unprecedented size and grandeur of Yuanmingyuan, however, are no more-it was ransacked and burned down by the Anglo French joint force in 1860. The remaining buildings were sacked once more by the allied forces of the Eight Powers in 1900. The ruins are preserved today and opened to tourists.
Built in 1421, Zhongshan (Sun Yatsen) Park west of Tian'anmen Gate Tower was the site of the Altar to Gods of Earth and Grain During the Ming and Qing. Tucked away under rich foliage of ancient trees are the main hall, ancillary buildings, and an altar.
The 260-metre-long Lugou (Reed Gully) Bridge in Fengtai District, known among Westerners as Marco Polo Bridge, is a famous ancient bridge built in 1189. What is most fascinating about the bridge is the 492 big and small lions carved in unsurpassed craftsmanship into the capitals of balustrade columns.
Facing Palace Museum's Gate of Divine Valour across a street, the Jingshan Park was an imperial garden during the Ming and Qing. The Jingshan Hill, situated on the meridian line of the city of Beijing, Provides a panoramic view of the capital.
Lying in the northwest suburb of Beijing, Xiangshan (Fragrance Hill) Park was an imperial garden during the Qing. The peak of the hill, known as lncense Burner Hill, stands 557 metres above sea level. The park, one of the most picturesque spots of Beijing, looks its seasonal best in autumn, when the entire place is dyed crimson by maple leaves.
NEW TOURIST SCENE
Beijing Amusement Park
Old Beijing Miniature Candscapes
Grand View Garden
Minghuang Waxwork Museum
Chinese Ethnic Culture Park