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Home >>> China Travel Guide >>> Beijing

Beijing, also called “Jing” for short, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, is the nation’s political, economic and culture center as well as a hub of transportation and international exchanges. Covering an area of 16,800 square kilometers and divided into 14 districts and 4 counties, Beijing has a population of 15 million, which includes Hans, Huis, Manchurians, Mongolians and other ethnic peoples.

Beijing enjoys a time-honored history. some five hundred millennia ago, zhoukoudian in the southwester suburbs was already teeming with the activities of Peking man, the ancestor of the humankind. As a world-renowned ancient cultural city, Beijing’s history as a city traces to 3,000 years ago and from the mid-12th century, it has been serving as thee nation’s capital during different historical periods for more than 800 years. the venerated history has bestowed splendid and rich cultural relics and historical remains in Beijing. Numerous palace complexes, imperial gardens, temples of different religions, former residences of celebrities, ancient pagodas and stone carvings, as well as modernized buildings, all these add glamour and beauty to each other, making beijing a land dotted with scenic spots and places of historical and cultural interest.

Currently, Beijing has 3,550 historical monuments and cultural relics in Beijing. Great wall, Palace Museum, Peking man site at zhoukoudian, Summer Palace, Temple of Heaven and Ming Tombs were inscribed on the world heritage list on the unesco. other attractions include Beihai, Zhongshan and Jingshan parks, working people’s palace of culture, ruins of Yuanmingyuan, mansion of Prince Gong, Yunju and Tanzhe temples, Yonghe palace, Baiyun Taoist temple and so on. 

The Great Wall

     Starting from the east coast of the Pacific Ocean, winding through Mountains, grassland and deserts, Great Wall, like a dragon, runs across the north part of the Chinese territory about 6,350 kilometers.
     The Great Wall was first built in 7 century BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring State Period in Chinese history. It served as the self-defense work against trespassers from the nomadic tribes living in the north of China. But during that time the Great Wall was in separate condition, not in one line. Till 221 BC, the Qin emperor had all the walls linked up, then the Great Wall came into being. From then on, the construction

 of the Great Wall went intermittently for more than 2,000 years. If we could link all the walls built in different dynasties up, the wall could run across the earth for more than one circle.
     The Great Wall not only served as the defense work, but also as the signal transmission net-work. Every several hundred meters, there is a tower standing on the highest place of the wall, which was called beacon tower. In the past on the tower there would be solders to keep watch. When the enemy was in sight they would make fire during night and smoke in the daytime. When other solders on the beacon
towers saw the signal they would do same thing. Then the emergency message could be sent to capital city within the shortest time.

     In Beijing area the Great Wall is about 629 kilometers, the most of them were built on the ridges of mountains, looking imposing and magnificent. In Beijing, there five sections of the Great Wall open to the tourists, namely: Badaling Great Wall, Juyonggaun Great Wall, Mutianyu Great Wall, Simatai Great Wall and Jinshanling Great Wall. In 1987 the Great Wall was put on the list of the World Heritage of the UNESCO.

Temple of Heaven

     Temple of Heaven is located in the south of Beijing, covering an area about 273 hectares. It was first built in 1420 and rebuilt in 1530. In the Ming and Qing dynasty the Temple of Heaven was the place where emperors used to worship both Gods and theirs ancestors. In 1918 the Temple of Heaven was changed into a park and began to open to visitors. Now the Temple of Heaven has become a public park and a favorite meeting placefor the senior citizens to do morning exercise and have fun.

     The Temple of Heaven is made up of two parts: the south part symbolizing the earth and the north part symbolizing the heaven. The two parts are bridged together by a marble road, which is called the Sacred Bridge. The whole area is enclosed by a wall, and the north part of the wall is round, the south part square, symbolizing the concept holding by Chinese people in that age “ Heaven is round, earth is square”. All the main buildings were built on the central axes, namely the Circular Mount Alter, the Imperial Vault of Heaven in the south and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest in the north. Among them the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is the highlight in the park. Its design, decoration and the symbolic layout are unique and marvelous. All these make the Temple of Heaven a masterwork in the Chinese traditional architecture and a precious heritage of world. In 1998 the temple of Heaven was put on World Heritage List by the UNESCO.

Forbidden City

      The Forbidden City, also known as the palace Museum, was the largest and best-preserved ancient wooden palace in the world. It was the imperial palace in the Ming and Qing dynasties, first built in 1406. The construction lasted for about 14 years. About 100,000 artisans and 1 million labors involved into the project. In the Ming and Qing dynasties,

 there were altogether 24 emperors ruled from there, 10 in the Ming and 14 in the Qing. The Palace of Museum takes an area of 72 hectares, has 9,999.5 rooms. The whole palace could be divided into two parts: the Out Court and the Inner Court. The Out Court served as political center, the Inner Court as living quarters in the past. The main buildings sitting on the central axes are the hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Middle Harmony and Hall of Preserving Harmony in the Out Court and the Hall of Heavenly Purity, Hall of Union and the Hall of Earthly Tranquility in the Inner Court. The general layout of the Forbidden City is totally agreed with Chinese traditional idea of Yinyang and Five Element theories. The design and decoration of the buildings in the palace stressed the concept of the zenith, such as the zenith of the rank of the buildings, the power of the emperor and the luxury enjoyed by the imperial family, there would be no equal in the world. All these make it an outstanding example of the oriental architecture and a really human treasure in the world. In 1987, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO

Summer Palace

      Summer Palace located in the northwest outskirt of Beijing, about 10 kilometers away from the downtown. As an imperial garden it was mainly built in 1749 in Qing dynasty, but first built in Jin dynasty more than 800 year’s ago. The construction in Qing dynasty lasted for 15 years. Unfortunately, in 1860 and 1900, the Summer Palace, which had been built intermittently for centuries was burned down by invading solders. But later on it was rebuilt again. When the last dynasty collapsed, the Summer Palace,

 as private property of the last emperor --- Puyi, opened to visitors. In 1949, the Summer Palace came to the hand of the People’s Republic of China, then, renovation work began. From then on the Summer Palace began to take a new look.

      The Summer Palace takes an area of 290 hectares and is made up of two parts: the Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake, but the lake takes up two thirds of the whole area. According to the function of different parts of the garden we could also divide it into three sections, namely political area, residential area and sightseeing area. The three sections arethreaded together by the famous wooden architecture ---the Long Corridor, which like a ribbon extending from east to west on the north bank about 728 meters.

  Apart from the design of the corridor, another outstanding feature is the Chinese paintings. On the beams and crossbeams there are more than 7,000 Chinese paintings, therefore it is also nicknamed as art gallery. In the center of the lake there sits a beautiful small island. Between the East Bank and the island is the beautiful Marco Polo Bridge. Combining the elegance and beauty of the garden in south China and the grandness of the imperial garden, the Summer Palace has a significant place in the culture of landscape gardening in China. In 1998 the Summer Palace has been inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO.

Tian Anmen Square

      Tian Anmen Square is the largest city center square in the world, about 440,000 square meters. In the Ming and Qing dynasties it was the front Courtyard of the Forbidden City, but smaller in size and was a T-shaped square. On the both sides of that square, all the government offices were arranged according to the concept of “civil offices on the east and military offices on the west”. But when the last dynasty collapsed, all the buildings on the square were destroyed. After the founding of the People’s Republic

 of China, large renovation work took place. Especially during 1959, on the Square two important buildings were built. One is the Great Hall of the People on the west, another is the Museum of Chinese history and Museum of Chinese revolution on the east.
      Tian’an Men Square actually got its name from the grand gate that standing on the north side of the square, which is called Tian’an Men, means gate of heavenly peace. Tian’an Men Gate originally was one of the front gates of the Forbidden City and is a two-story building, five gates in the lower part and one wooden palace on the top. In the center of the square it is the Monument to the People’s Hero, built with marble stone in 1950s. From the monument southward, there stands the Memorial Hall of Chairman Mao, built in 1977. From the memorial hall continue southward, there stands two ancient gates, one is called Zhengyang Gate, another Archery Gate. They were both old gates of the Forbidden City. The
night scene of Tian’an Men Square is definitely a MUSAT for any visitor to Beijing.


      The Chinese acrobatics has a long history and rich national flavour. It is one of the art forms most popular among the Chinese people. It has a distint style evolving from everyday life and work. Despite the advent of dazzling film shows and song-and-dance performances, acrobatics now still shines as one of the brightest stars in Chinese culture. With about 2,500 years of history, Chinese acrobatics has won the nation the title of “Kingdom of Acorbatics”, and the Chinese acrobatic troupes have traveled to many countries and regions the world over and have amazed audiences everywhere.

     Since 1949, the people’s government has made great efforts to foster and develop national arts and acrobatics has gained a new life. All provinces, autonomous regions have set up their own acrobatic troupes. The acrobatic art of the new China has not only made great improvement in its contents and skill but also set up a designing and directing system, aiming at creating graceful stage images, of costumes, props and lighting so as to bring about a full-fledged stage art.

Peking Opera


      Peking Opera has entertained audiences for more than 200 years with its elaborate costumes, ear-splitting arias, dazzling martial arts and musical dialogue. Most Peking Operas are unintelligible to the untrained viewer, but they are usually based on folk tales, famous novels and fairy tales and are a pleasure to watch if you know the basic story. The theater has subtitle message so even if you don’t know the story you can still follow along. Characters are classified into three basic categories: the male roles, called “sheng”, female roles “dan”, and clown “chou”. The nature of each character is shown through the different colour of the facial makeup. For example, red usually means evil or sly and black and white face makeup denotes authority.                                                                                  




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