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Beijing

The Capital City

BeijingBeijingBeijing
  • General Information

    Other Name: Peking, District: Beijing, State: SOUTH CHINA, China
    Area: 16801.25  kmĀ²
    Languages Spoken: Standard Mandarin
    Long Distance Code: +8610
    Importance: Beijing is China's second largest city, after Shanghai.
    Best Time to Visit: October to November and May
    International Access: Beijing is well connected with all the major cities of the world by air.
  • Description

    Beijing, also known as Peking, is the capital and the second largest city of China. The total area of Beijing is approximately 16,800 sq km, and has over 7.23 million people, 3 million of which are temporary residents. The temporary residents are comprised of business persons, teachers and students. Beijing's permanent residents are from all of the different ethnic groups found in China with the Han's comprising over 96% of the population. Mandarin Chinese is the language spoken in Beijing, with Beijing's dialect being the standard form of Mandarin
  • Location

    Beijing is located on the west coast of Pacific, Beijing stands at the northern tip of North China Plain. Tian'anmen Square in the cnter of Beijing is situated at 39O56' North Latitude and 116O20' East Longitude.
  • Climate

    Humid Continental Climate
Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world's largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 rooms. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Divine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park. The distance between these two gates is 960 meters, while the distance between the gates in the east and west walls is 750 meters. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside. The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Palace Museum is now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign of the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Stone needed was quarried from Fangshan, a suburb of Beijing. It was said a well was dug every fifty meters along the road in order to pour water onto the road in winter to slide huge stones on ice into the city. Huge amounts of timber and other materials were freighted from faraway provinces. Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meters wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process. However, there is one exception. Wenyuange, the royal library, has a black roof. The reason is that it was believed black represented water then and could extinguish fire.

Nowadays, the Forbidden City, or the Palace Museum is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy 'modern civilians'.

Jingshan Park, a beautiful royal landscape garden, is situated in the center of Beijing City. Covering an area of 230,000 square meters (about 57 acres), the park stands on the central point of the south-north axis of Beijing City and faces the north gate of the Forbidden City. Jingshan Park is found on Jingshan Hill, which was originally named Wansui Hill (Long Live Hill), Zhen Hill or Meishan Hill (Coal Hill). The mid summit of Jingshan is the highest point in Beijing. Looking from the peak, the visitor is able to get a full and clear view of the Forbidden City.

During the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Jingshan Hill served as an imperial garden and was properly laid out under the Ming Dynasty when numerous fruit trees were planted as well as many palaces and pavilions built for the emperor to make sacrifices to his ancestors. As a result, the royal families always enjoyed amusements here, like hunting in the hills. Then, in 1928, it was opened to the public. Later, after 1949, the park was fully rebuilt, with the paths in it paved and most of the buildings renovated. Now, the present Jingshan Park is one of the 'AAAA' Scenery Spots in China and a 'must' for visitors to Beijing.

Upon entering the front gate of the park, visitors can see the Qiwang Pavilion, embraced by the vigorous green cypresses. This was originally the place for emperors to worship the memorial tablet of Confucius. Surrounded by white marble balustrades, the two-storied pavilion with its golden-glazed roof appears quite dignified.

The Jingshan Hill has five summits, and on each summit there is a pavilion, built in 1751. In every pavilion, there was originally placed a copper Buddha statue which represented one of the five tastes-sour, bitter, sweet, acrid and salt. It is a pity that they were all lost during the warfare of 1900. Among the five pavilions, the Wanchun Pavilion (Ten Thousand Spring Pavilion), on the middle of the five summits, sits at the hill's central point as well as being at the highest point in Beijing. It is a perfect place to appreciate the full view of Beijing City. From this pavilion, visitors are able to see the resplendent and magnificent Forbidden City in the south, the dignified Bell and Drum Towers in the north, as well as the White Dagoba in the west.

In the north side of the Jingshan Hill is found the Shouhuang Hall (Hall of Imperial Longevity), originally the place for the emperors in the Qing dynasty to pay their respects to their ancestors. Some of the emperors' portraits were worshiped in it. To the east of the Shouhuang Hall, stands the Yongsi Hall (Missing Hall), the place for resting the dead bodies of the past emperors and queens.

Jingshan Park also boasts some charming natural scenery with a planted area in the park of about 1100 square meters (about 1316 square yards). This park is the biggest peony rose garden in Beijing and during May each year, with the 20,000 peony roses of some 200 varieties in full bloom the park displays a wonderful and colorful scene. Visitors who are interested in flowers will find some rare and famous varieties to please them. We hope you enjoy your visit to Jingshan Park when you are in Beijing.
50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City lies the Ming Tombs - the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors. Because of its long history, palatial and integrated architecture, the site has a high cultural and historic value. The layout and arrangement of all thirteen mausoleums are very similar but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.

It was originally built only as Changling, the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses. This is the most magnificent of the tombs. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling.

Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public. Changling, the chief of the Ming Tombs, is the largest in scale and is completely preserved. The total internal area of the main building is 1956 square meters. There are 32 huge posts, and the largest measures about 14 meters in height.It inhumes Emperor Zhudi, the fourth son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Travel China Guide recommends the Lingsi Palace in its second yard as really deserving a visit. This is unique as it is the only huge palace made of camphor wood. It covers about 1956 square meters. The ceiling is colorfully painted and supported by sixteen solid camphor posts. The floor was decorated with gold bricks.

Unlike Changling, Dingling is under ground and about 27 meters deep. It is the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun, the thirteenth emperor who occupied the throne the longest during the Ming Dynasty, and his two empresses. The main features are the Stone Bridge, Soul Tower, Baocheng and the Underground Place, which was unearthed between 1956 and 1958. The entire palace is made of stone. The Soul Tower is symbolic of the whole of Dingling and it forms the entrance to the underground chambers. The yellow glazed tiles; eaves, archway, rafters and columns are all sculptured from stone, and colorfully painted. The entire construction is stable and beautiful!

Served by three stone doors, it is divided into three Halls consisting of five high palaces - the front, the middle, the rear, the left and the right palaces. The Gate of the Tomb, the Gate of Eminent Favor and the Lingxing Gate all have the same structural form.

The front hall, considered the square of the Palace, has no building within it. No special artifacts remain in either the left and right palaces that are about 7 meters high, six meters wide, and 26 meters long. However, each has a centrally placed white marble coffin bed, the surface of which is covered with gold bricks. On each bed there is a square hole filled with loess. This is the so-called "Gold Well". A paved path leads to the central hall where there are three white marble thrones. Incense, candles and flowers were set in front of the thrones. Before each of them, there are glazed 'Five Offerings' and a blue china jar that would have been filled with sesame oil to be used for lamps. The rear hall is the main and biggest part of the Palace. The coffins of Emperor Zhu Yijun and his two empresses are in this palace. There are also some precious items displayed with these coffins; among them is the gold imperial crown, one of the world's most rare treasures.

We feel that it is necessary to remind visitors with heart problems to consider carefully whether they should enter the underground chambers. The atmosphere and dull lighting can be a problem. As always, do not hesitate to consult your guide, who will be able to offer advice.

Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated, in 1960 by the State Council, as a Key Cultural Relics Protection Site of China. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), during the succeeding reign of feudal emperors; it was extended continuously. By the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. Originally called 'Qingyi Garden' (Garden of Clear Ripples), it was know as one of the famous 'three hills and five gardens' (Longevity Hill, Jade Spring Mountain, and Fragrant Hill; Garden of Clear Ripples, Garden of Everlasting Spring, Garden of Perfection and Brightness, Garden of Tranquility and Brightness, and Garden of Tranquility and Pleasure). Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public.

Composed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, The Summer Palace occupies an area of 294 hectares (726.5 acres), three quarters of which is water. Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens exquisitely so that visitors would see marvelous views and be amazed by perfect examples of refined craftwork using the finest materials.

Centered on the Tower of Buddhist Incense (Foxiangge) the Summer Palace consists of over 3,000 structures including pavilions, towers, bridges, and corridors. The Summer Palace can be divided into four parts: the court area, front-hill area, front-lake area, and rear-hill and back-lake area.

Front-Hill Area: this area is the most magnificent area in the Summer Palace with the most constructions. Its layout is quite distinctive because of the central axis from the yard of Kunming Lake to the hilltop, on which important buildings are positioned including Gate of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Dispelling Clouds, Hall of Moral Glory, Tower of Buddhist Incense, the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom, etc.

Rear-Hill and Back-Lake Area: although the constructions are fewer here, it has a unique landscape, with dense green trees, and winding paths. Visitors can feel a rare tranquility, and elegance. This area includes scenic spots such as Garden of Harmonious Interest and Suzhou Market Street.

Court Area: this is where Empress Dowager Cixi and Emperor Guangxu met officials, conducted state affairs and rested. Entering the East Palace Gate, visitors may see the main palace buildings: the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity served as the office of the Emperor, the Hall of Jade Ripples where Guangxu lived, the Hall of Joyful Longevity, Cixi's residence, the Hall of Virtue and Harmony where Cixi was entertained.

Front Lake Area: covering a larger part of the Summer Palace, opens up the vista of the lake. A breeze fluttering, waves gleam and willows kiss the ripples of the vast water. In this comfortable area there are the Eastern and Western Banks, the Seventeen-Arch Bridge, Nanhu Island, and so on. On the western bank float six distinct bridges amongst which the Jade-Belt Bridge is the most beautiful.

Beijing is not only the political center of China, but it is also the most strategic city in the north. Many dynasties in Chinese history actively built walls in this area. Among many historical ruins of the Great Wall in Beijing, the wall built during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) is the most often seen and best preserved, running over 373 miles and containing about 827 city wall platforms, 71 passes and countless towers. Other famous 'great wall' sections include the Badaling, Huanghuacheng, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Gubeikou, Jinshanling and Simatai sections.

If you want to experience the culture and enjoy the beauty of the Great Wall, meandering along the bricks of the Badaling Great Wall is your first choice. It is famous for its deep-rooted culture, magnificent sights and complete military facilities - the essence of the Great Wall. You may find many pictures of it in magazines and guide books and printed on stamps. Being the must-see section of the Great Wall, it is sometimes flocked with visitors especially during holidays. You may want to avoid the peak seasons or visit the Mutianyu Great Wall instead. It is even more beautiful and has fewer tourists. If you are nostalgic for old times, the Simatai and Gubeikou sections should be on your itinerary. These two sections are well maintained in their original states. The strong, primitive walls enhance the beauty of the wilderness. If you are energetic and daring, adventures on the Huanghuacheng and Jiankou sections await you. The steep peaks and broken bricks will challenge your courage and curiosity. Remember to bring complete a mountaineering outfit, food and water. Water is unavailable on the wild sections.

Different sections of Beijing's Great Wall can satisfy many different interests. Come and explore your favorite one!
Located at the center of Beijing City is Tiananmen Square, where you can visit Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People's Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and see the national flag raising ceremony. Thousands of people come to the Square every day. It is the must place to visit in Beijing City.

At the north end of the Square is Tiananmen Tower. Initially built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.- 1644 A.D.), the Square was the front door of the Forbidden City. The most important use of it in the past was to declare in a big ceremony to the common people who became the emperor and who became the empress. Until 1911 when the last feudal kingdom was over, no one could enter the Tower except for the royal family and aristocrats.

The granite Monument to the People's Heroes is just at the center of the Tiananmen Square. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in China's history. ' The People's Heroes are Immortal' written by Chairman Mao is engraved on the monument. Eight unusually large relief sculptures show to the people the development of Chinese modern history. Two rows of white marble railings enclose the monument, simple and beautiful.

West of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. This building, erected in 1959, is the site of the China National People's Congress meetings and provides an impressive site for other political and diplomatic activities.Twelve marble posts are infront of the Hall which has three parts--the Central Hall, the Great Auditorium and a Banqueting Hall.The floor of the Central Hall is paved with marble and crystal lamps hang from the ceiling. The Great Auditorium behind the Central Hall seats 10,000. The Banqueting Hall is a huge hall with 5,000 seats.

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall is at the south side of the Square. This Hall is divided into three halls and our dear Chairman Mao's body lies in a crystal coffin in one of the halls surrounded by fresh bouquets of various famous flowers and grasses.

Another important place for the tourist to visit is the China National Museum at the east side of the Square. It just came into existence in 2003 and is a combination of Chinese History Museum and Chinese Revolutionary Museum. This National Museum faces the Great Hall of the People. Inside the Chinese Revolutionary Museum are a lot of material objects, pictures, books and models to present the development of modern China. The Chinese History Museum shows a large number of cultural relics illustrating the long history and glorious culture of China from 1,700,000 years ago to 1921 when the last emperor left the throne.

Five Star Red Flag-the Chinese national flag, flies high in the sky above the Square. To see the guard of honor raise the Flag is a must for the tourist visiting Beijing City. You have to get up very early and arrive at the Square before sunrise. Only by doing so can you see the ceremony clearly as there are crowds of people attending the ceremony every day.

The present Tiananmen Square has an area of 440,000 square meters and has become a relaxing place for the common people to fly kites and walk. On a holiday, the whole square is covered with fresh flowers
The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile visiting place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven' ,they dared not to build their own dwelling,'Forbidden City' bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of 'The heaven is round and the earth is square'.

The Temple is divided by two enclosed walls into inner part and outer part. The main buildings of the Temple lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis line of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are The Circular Mound Altar (Yuanqiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo Stones and Echo Wall.Almost all of the buildings are connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge (Danbiqiao) or called Sacred Way.