As the capital of the People's Republic of China, Beijing is the nation's
center of government, economy, culture, and international activities,
as well as serving as a transportation hub to the entire country.
With a population of 11 million people, Beijing contains 18 districts
and counties covering an area of 10,450 square miles. The suburbs
contain: Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu, Chongwen, Chaoyang, Haidian,
Fengtai, and Shijingshan. An outer suburban area consists of: Fangshan,
Mengtougou, Changping, Tongxian, Shunyi, Daxing, Huairou, Miyun, Pinggu,
Beijing City is an independently administered municipal district located
in the northeastern part of China at an elevation of 143 feet above
sea level. Beijing has a continental climate. January is the coldest
month with an average temperature of 24 degrees Fahrenheit. At an
average temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit, July is the warmest.
The best time to visit Beijing is May, September and October.
Beijing has a long history. As early as 500,000 years ago, ancient "Peking Man" lived at Zhoukoudian 30 miles southwest of Beijing. King Wu was the first to declare Beijing the capital city in 1057 B.C. Established in 1045 B.C., Beijing is an ancient cultural city, serving for 800 years as the capital of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
Beijing was also known as Peking by the Western world before 1949. In the early nineteen twenties, Beijing became the cradle of China's new democratic revolution. The May Fourth Movement against imperialism and feudalism began in 1919. On October 1st, 1949, Chairman Mao announced to the world the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Beijing is also known as a tourist city for its many places of interest, including ancient architecture, royal gardens, mansions, towers, temples, palaces, and modern structures. It is a gathering place of artists and other talented people.
Airlines connect Beijing to more than 110 cities at home and abroad while the city boasts a fine railroad and highway system for local travelers. Urban construction has brought new changes to Beijing, building a unique combination of ancient civilization and modern metropolis.
The Great Wall
The Great Wall is a symbol of the ancient Chinese civilization. Stretching 3,950 miles, The Great Wall was built as a defensive structure. It is listed in the United Nation's Education, Science and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 1987. The best preserved and most imposing section of the wall is at Badaling, 50 miles north of Beijing and over 2,625 feet above sea level, but the magnitude and beauty of the wall can also be seen at Jinshanling, Mutianyu, and Simatai.
The Construction of the Great Wall first began during the warring period of 476 - 221 B.C. In the beginning walls were built at some strategic points by different kingdoms to protect their own territories. After the first Emperor Qin Shihuang of the Qin Dynasty unified China in 221 B.C., he decided to have the individual walls joined together creating one Great Wall. It took more than 1 million people and more than 10 years to finish the work.
The Forbidden City is also known as the Palace Museum. It is the largest and most well preserved imperial residence in China today. Located in the center of Beijing, The Forbidden City was built between 1406 and 1420 under Ming Emperor Yongle, and served as the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing dynasties. Ming Emperor Zhudi was the first emperor to live there. It is 3,150 feet long from north to south and 2,460 feet wide from east to west. It has 9,900 rooms and halls containing many precious relics. A 170-foot wide moat encircles the Forbidden City along with 32-foot high walls. There are four entrances, the Meridian Gate to the south, the Shenwu Gate (Gate of Military Prowess) to the north, the Xihua Gate (Western Flowery Gate) to the west, and the Donghua Gate (Eastern Flowery Gate) to the east.
The word "forbidden" is quite literal, as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off-limits to ordinary people. As the residence for emperors and their families, most of the walls of the imperial palace were painted red and roofs were covered with yellow glazed tiles. The red and yellow combination forms a strong color contrast, representing the absolute authority, supremacy, and richness of feudal emperors. In 1987, UNESCO also listed the Forbidden City in the World Heritage List. It is the largest palace in the world.
The Ming Tombs
The Ming Dynasty lasted from 1368 to 1644. The Ming Tombs are a group of mausoleums of 13 Ming emperors, their empresses and their concubines. The tombs are located about 31 miles north of Beijing and are scattered across an area of 25 square miles. Two of the tombs, Changling and the most famous, Dingling, an underground palace, are open to the public.
Tian'anmen was built in 1417 and renovated in 1981; it was the symbol of New China. On October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao at Tian'anmen Square proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China. Located in the center of Beijing, it is the largest city square in the world. It covers an area of 122 acres and is big enough to hold a half million people. Tian'anmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) was the front gateway to the imperial palace in the Ming and Qing dynasties. A picture of Tian'anmen is at the center of the Chinese national emblem.
The Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, and is located in the southern part of the city. It was the place where emperors of the Ming and Qing would pray to heaven for good harvests. It was one of the most strictly protected and preserved cultural heritages of China. It is the largest temple complex in China with 12 million people visiting the temple every year.
The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace was a grand imperial palace and a royal garden of the Qing Dynasty. Construction began in 1750, and today remains an outstanding example of imperial gardens in classical Chinese style. The Summer Palace contains tens of thousands of precious cultural relics. This imperial garden features 3,000 rooms and covers an expanse of 17.3 acres, with more than 100 picturesque sites of interest.
Beihai Park was the imperial garden of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, and is one of the oldest of the Chinese gardens. Beihai Park is located on the west side of the Forbidden City, is a wide expanse of Tai Ye Chi. Tai Ye Chi is divided into three parts: Beihai Lake (in Beihai Park) in the north, Zhonghai Lake in the middle, and Nanhai Lake in the south. Beihai, the best known of the three, was turned into a royal garden as early as 1,000 years ago.
A royal garden of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368 - 1911), Jingshan Park is located adjacent to the Palace Museum. The main purpose of Jingshan Park was for the emperors' enjoyment, climbing hills, admiring the scenery and eating and drinking. Within the park, Jingshan Hill covers an area of approximately 57 acres and rises to a height of 144 feet, from which visitors can oversee the entire city of Beijing. It is considered the best place for a panoramic view of the whole city.
Built in 1906 and opened to the public in 1908, The Beijing Zoo is the oldest zoo in China, and covers an area of approximately 124 acres. The zoo's residents consist of more than 6,000 animals of over 500 species including giant pandas, golden monkeys, and brown bears. The zoo also houses many rare animals from other parts of the world: hippopotami, zebras, giraffes, chimpanzees, lions and antelopes from Africa, parrots from South America, birds and polar bears from the Arctic, bison from Europe and apes from Asia.
Hutongs are a special feature of downtown Beijing, where there are 4,550 of them. A hutong means street, lane and alley lined on both sides by courtyards containing different kinds of houses. The best-preserved hutongs are those around the Mansion of Prince Yixin. Riding in old-fashioned pedicabs through these hutongs is something special for your Beijing trip