Renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, art treasures, culture and cuisine, Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Regarded as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China Beijing has a rich historical past. It was the seat of the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until the formation of a republic in 1911. This metropolis is the country’s political, cultural, and educational center with many top universities and most of the head offices of China’s largest state-owned companies. Beijing, the second largest city after Shanghai is a also major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and highways passing through the city, and many international flights to China fly here. With centuries of history, there is hardly a major building of any age in Beijing that does not have at least some national historical significance. For this week’s feature on this ancient city, we start with a list of suggested attractions to visit!
Forbidden City – Located in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. Built during the reign of Emperor Chengzu in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), this mighty palace saw a total of 24 emperors rule from here. Besides being the home of the emperors and their massive households, it was also the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. Consisting of 980 buildings and covering 720,000 m2 (7,800,000 sq ft), the palace is the exemplification and embodiment of traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced numerous cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere.
The Forbidden City is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng (literally “Purple Forbidden City”). Zi, or “Purple”, refers to the North Star, which in ancient China was called the Ziwei Star and ancient Chinese astronomers believed that the North Star (Polaris) was in the center of heaven and was also the abode of the Celestial Emperor. The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart and no-one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor’s permission hence, ‘forbidden’. Today, the Forbidden City is a World Heritage Site and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The complex now houses the Palace Museum which is one of the most popular tourist attractions in China and has an extensive collection of artwork and artifacts from the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. This attraction is definitely a must-see in Beijing!
This photo of Temple of Heaven (Tiantan Park) is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Temple of Heaven – Constructed between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of Ming Emperor YongLe (reign: 1403-1424), the Temple of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven, who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, mostly comprising prayers for good harvests. Covering an area of 273 hectares, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features attractions such as the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Long Corridor, the Echo Wall, the Seven-Star Stone and many other areas of historic interest and panoramic beauty. Here are some interesting facts about some attractions in the Temple of Heaven.
- Temple’s Echo Wall
There is a circular wall around The Imperial Vault of The Temple of Heaven, which many refer to as the Echo Wall. Legend has it that if you whisper at any point closest to the wall, it is said that one may be able to hear you clearly on the other side.
- The Heaven’s Center Stone
There is a stone in the center of the Circular Mound Altar called the Heaven’s Center Stone. Stand above it and shout loudly, you will hear the reverberation.
This photo of Summer Palace (Yiheyuan) is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Summer Palace – Built in 1750 by Emperor Qianlong who paid a whooping 4.48 million taels of silver, an equivalent of 140,000 kilograms, to build the Garden of Clear Ripples (Summer Palace) extending the area of the lake and carrying out other improvements based on the hill and its landscape. Later, the emperor changed the name of the hill to Longevity Hill in order to celebrate his mother’s birthday. He also named the nearby lake, Lake Kunming , because he wanted to follow the example of former Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty 156BC-87BC, who reigned from 140B.C to 87B.C. Most of the site was destroyed in the war of 1860 but it was later restored on its original foundations in 1886. The Summer Palace is regarded as a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The Summer Palace covers an area of 2.97 km2 , three-quarters of which is covered by water. Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake is complemented by man-made features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges. Being an imperial garden, it was designed on a grandiose scale with no expenses spared. Emperor Qianlong divided the palace into three areas, each with its particular function: political and administrative activities, residence, and recreation and sightseeing. Today this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most widely visited places in Beijing.
This photo of The Great Wall at Badaling is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Great Wall of China – Arguably one of the most recognizable and famous landmarks in the world, the Great Wall has come to symbolize China and her long and rich history. Built originally to protect the northern borders of the massive Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups, the Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. Several walls have been built since the 5th century BC that are referred to collectively as the Great Wall, which has been rebuilt and maintained from the 5th century BC through the 16th century. The Great Wall at Badaling is located in Yanqing County, which is about 60 kilometers northwest of Beijing. It is widely known as the most representative section of the “Great Wall” from the Ming Dynasty. Sitting at the highest point of the strategic pass leading to Beijing from the northwest, the Great Wall at Badaling consists of the main wall and several subordinate walls. It is flanked by steep mountains and popularly known as the “key to the northern gate.” At present, 3,741 meters of the Great Wall at Badaling and 21 beacon towers are open to visitors. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a world-renowned scenic spot, and also an important place for receiving foreign guests, the visitor count by now has surpassed 130 million. More than 420 foreign leaders and heads of state, including Nixon, Reagan, Mandela, Queen Elizabeth II, Mrs. Thatcher, George W. Bush, and Vladimir Putin have at various times climbed the wall. It is said that the Great Wall of China is so massive that it can be seen from outer space! Not even taking that last bit into consideration, the Great Wall at Badaling should be the first on any visitor’s list.
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With its comprehensive offerings and strategic locale, Fraser Suites CBD, Beijing provides the perfect home away from home making it an ideal alternative for hotel accommodation in Beijing.
Fraser Residence Beijing
With a home at Fraser Residence CBD East, Beijing, guests get beauty and luxury both inside and out. The view of the modern cityscape and beautiful landscaped gardens provide a perfect backdrop for the contemporary concepts of your stylish apartment in Beijing.
From the exclusive elevator access to the separate living room, dining and kitchen areas, from the tasteful furnishing to beautiful finishes, each detail is meticulously considered to create a comfortable and cosy haven for your family. For recreation, guests can enjoy in-house facilities such as the gymnasium with jet pool, steam and sauna, DVD movie library, all-day dining, members’ lounge and snooker lounge. The Business Centre offers a range of secretarial services and meeting spaces while round-the-clock reception, concierge and security services mean help is always at hand.
Located in the midst of Beijing’s invigorating Chaoyang district, Fraser Residence CBD East-Beijing provides easy access to a wealth of leisure and entertainment facilities. Close by is the SOHO New Town, which has a cinema, outdoor tennis courts, children’s playgrounds and a plethora of restaurants, teahouses and cafes. Sample Beijing’s delicacies or browse quality retail items at Shin Kong Place or Central Place Shopping Mall. Also within the vicinity are the Olympic Park and colourful markets like Panjiayuan Antique Market, Silk Street Market and Laitai Flowers and Plants Market. Sanlitun Street, one of Beijing’s most popular places for its vibrant nightlife, is a short distance from your apartment. Travelling in, out of and around the area is a breeze, with easy access to the 4th Ring Road (Si Huan Lu) – an express road which runs around the Beijing city. Surrounded by international schools, international clubs, foreign-related business areas and service facilities, foreign ministries and embassies, Fraser Residence CBD East-Beijing is an unmatched domicile for savvy business travellers.