Dating from beijing
Beijing, only eclipsed by Shanghai in terms of size, is not only the political center of China - a position held for more than 800 years - it also plays an important role in the nation's cultural, economic, scientific, and academic life.In the northwest of the North China Plain, not far from the western slopes of the Yanshan mountains, Beijing - still often referred to as Peking - is a great place from which to explore this dynamic country due to its dense network of road, rail, and airline connections with other major cities.
The Imperial Palace, also known as the Forbidden City, is China's most significant building and can trace its origins back to the Yuan Dynasty of the 13th century.Other features of note are the Museum of the Chinese Revolution with its exhibits illustrating the various stages of the Chinese revolution from 1919 and the development of the Communist Party, and the Chairman Mao Mausoleum where the body of Mao rests in a crystal sarcophagus.Just a short distance from the Imperial Palace, Beihai Park is one of the oldest surviving imperial gardens in Beijing.Considered the center of communist China, the square's symbolic importance dates back to May 4th, 1919, when students demonstrated against the Chinese provisions of the Treaty of Versailles.Highlights include the Monument to the People's Heroes (Rénmín Yīngxióng Jìniànbēi), a 38-meter tall obelisk consisting of 17,000 pieces of granite and marble, and the splendid Tian'anmen Gate - the Gate of Heavenly Peace - completed in 1417 and once the main entrance to the Imperial City.The complex covers 720,000 square meters, all of it surrounded by a 10-meter-high wall with towers in the four corners and a 50-meter-wide moat, and is divided into an area used for ceremonial and administrative purposes, as well as the private quarters used by the Emperor and his concubines.
Highlights include the Meridian Gate, built in 1420; the Golden River Bridges, five richly decorated white marble bridges; the 35-meter-high Hall of Supreme Harmony containing the splendidly decorated gilded imperial throne; the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which functioned as the Emperor's banquet hall; and the Hall of Military Courage, a permanent residence and private audience hall for the emperors.
Of particular interest is the excellent Beijing Capital Museum, one of the country's leading art museums.
Opened in 1981, the museum boasts a vast collection of artifacts including ancient items of porcelain and bronze, traditional calligraphy and artwork, along with many fine statues from Chinese and other Asian cultures.
Other highlights of its collection of more than 200,000 important cultural artifacts - many originating from in and around Beijing - include the huge stele of Emperor Qian Long, weighing more than 40 tons, standing nearly seven meters in height, and containing ancient scripts and writings.
Another modern Beijing landmark worth visiting is the National Centre for the Performing Arts (Guójiā dà jùyuàn), also nicknamed the Giant Egg.
Beijing itself has no shortage of wonderful sightseeing opportunities and is home to some of the country's best-known tourist attractions, including a section of the famous Great Wall of China.