Beijing is a metropolis in northern China and the capital of the people's republic of China. It is one of ...
Beijing is a metropolis in northern China and the capital of the people's republic of China. It is one of the four municipalities of the PRC, which are equivalent to provinces in China's administrative structure. The municipality of Beijing borders hebei province to the north, west, south, and for a small section in the east, and Tianjin Municipality to the southeast. Beijing is one of the four great ancient capitals of China.
Beijing is china's second largest city, after Shanghai. Beijing is a major transportation hub, with dozens of railways, roads and motorways passing through the city. It is also the focal point of many international flights to China. Beijing is recognised as the political, educational, and cultural center of the People's Republic of China, while Shanghai and Hong Kong predominate in economic fields. The city hosted the 2008 olympic games.
Few cities in the world besides Beijing have served as the political and cultural centre of an area as immense as China for so long. The encyclop�dia britannica describes it as, "One of the world's great cities," and declares that the city has been an integral part of china�s history for centuries, and there is scarcely a major building of any age in Beijing that doesn't have at least some national historical significance. Beijing is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have long made the city a centre of culture and art in China.
Beijing became China�s capital in 1421 and was to remain so until the collapse of the imperial regime in 1911. It was not until the late 19th century that Westerners were allowed to reside there and all trading links had previously been restricted to Canton. From 1911 to 1949 Beijing suffered, as did the rest of China, from the wars fought between various factions trying to take control of the whole country. The Japanese invasion in 1931 was followed by a bitter civil war, which finally led to Communist supremacy under Mao Tse Tung and the founding of the People�s Republic of China with Beijing as the capital.
The first ten years of his rule were successful in many ways. Stability returned to the whole country and great advances were made in industry, agriculture, education and health care. However, in 1966, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, an attack on his more liberal political colleagues, which was to result in several years of anarchy throughout the country. Following Mao�s death in 1976, China gradually began to open up, welcoming foreigners as investors and as tourists and local Chinese were granted permission to set up businesses. Beijing is now keen to prove what a thriving commercial capital it has become.
The earliest remnants of human habitation in the Beijing municipality are found in the caves of dragon bone hill near the village of Zhoukoudian in Fangshan District, where the peking man lived. Homo erectus fossils from the caves date to 230,000 to 250,000 years ago. Paleolithic homo sapiens also lived there about 27,000 years ago. There were cities in the vicinities of Beijing by the 1st millennium BC, and the capital of the State of Yan, one of the powers of the warring states period (473-221 BC), Ji, was established in present-day Beijing.
After the fall of the Yan, the subsequent Qin, Han, and Jin dynasties set up local prefectures in the area. In Tang Dynasty it became the headquarters for Fanyang jiedushi, the virtual military governor of current northern Hebei area. The An Shi rebellion was also launched from here in 755 AD.
People native to urban Beijing speak the Beijing dialect, which belongs to the mandarin subdivision of spoken Chinese. Beijing dialect is the basis for standard mandarin, the language used in mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore. Rural areas of Beijing municipality have their own dialects akin to those of Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing municipality.
Beijing opera, or Peking opera (Jingju), is well-known throughout the national capital. Commonly lauded as one of the highest achievements of Chinese culture, Beijing opera is performed through a combination of song, spoken dialogue, and codified action sequences, such as gestures, movement, fighting and acrobatics. Much of Beijing opera is carried out in an archaic stage dialect quite different from modern standard mandarin and from the Beijing dialect.
Siheyuans line hutongs, or alleys, which connect the interior of Beijing's old city. They are usually straight and run east to west so that doorways can face north and south for feng shui reasons. They vary in width � some are very narrow, enough for only a few pedestrians to pass through at a time.
Once ubiquitous in Beijing, siheyuans and hutongs are now rapidly disappearing, as entire city blocks of hutongs are leveled and replaced with high-rise buildings. Residents of the hutongs are entitled to live in the new buildings, in apartments of at least the same size as their former residences. Many complain, however, that the traditional sense of community and street life of the hutongs cannot be replaced. Residents, however, have limited control over their own property, as the government usually owns it. Some particularly historic or picturesque neighbourhoods of hutongs are being preserved and restored by the government, especially for the 2008 Olympics.
September and October
Bell and Drum Towers, Big Bell Temple, The Great Wall, Hutong, Liulichang, Beijing World Park, Summer Palace, Tanzhe Temple, Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Beijing Zoo
Bell and Drum Towers: The bell and drum were originally used as musical instruments in China. Afterward, however, they were used for telling time. As early as in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220), there was 'a morning bell and a dusk drum'. Telling the time by bell and drum played an important role in helping people live and work regularly when there was no other means to keep track of the time. As a result, bell and drum towers became public architectures, and were widely constructed in almost every city throughout the country since the Han Dynasty.
Big Bell Temple: The Great Bell Temple is located on the northern western of Beijing city, No. 31 Western Section of the North 3rd Ring Road (Beisanhuan Xilu). Built in 1733, the temple houses the largest bell in China. In addition, the temple also has a small ancient bell museum and some Chinese ancient bells displayed. The biggest bell known as China's "King of Bells", which is 6.87 meters high, 3.3 meters in diameter, 0.22 meter thick and 46.5 tons in weight. It is hangings in the bell tower at the rear of the compound.
The Great Wall: For any average traveler who visits China for the first time, the Great Wall is always an indispensable fixture on the itinerary. Without it, a trip to China would be incomplete. The reason is simple: it is one of China�s most important cultural and historical symbols. It is also one of the best known ancient constructions in the world. The massive project stretches from Shanghaiguan in the east to Jiayuguan in the west, a distance of over 6,300 kilometers, covering eight provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions. The Great Wall was first built as a defense line against nomadic incursions. Its military and strategic importance was unmatched by any other projects in ancient China.
Hutong: A hutong is an old city alley or lane, and the hutongs of Beijing are one of its most distinctive features. The capital city is home to thousands of hutongs, many of which were built in the area surrounding the Forbidden City during the Yuan (1279 - 1368), Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties.
During China�s dynastic heyday, the emperors planned the city and arranged the residential areas according to the etiquette systems of the Zhou Dynasty (1027 - 256 BC). At the center of the metropolis was the Forbidden City, surrounded in concentric circles by the Inner City and Outer City. Citizens of higher social status were permitted to live closer to the center of the circles.
Liulichang: Liulichang is a famous cultural street in Beijing established in the Yuan Dynasty. Its main commodities are antiques, calligraphic works and paintings. It used to be a colored glaze kiln and factory and thus named Liulichang (colored glaze factory). In the Ming and Qing dynasties, a lot of candidates to the imperial examinations would visit here, whereas so many book and stationery shops created a strong cultural atmosphere. It turned to be a habit of many people. Many celebrities wrote inscriptions for book shops and cultural relic shops, such as He Shaoji, Lu Runku, Kang Youwei, Hua Shikui, Weng Tong, Liang Qichao and Shen Yimo, increasing much more fame for Liulichang.
Beijing World Park: Beijing World Park is located in southwestern Fengtai District, and is about 17 kilometers from the City center and 40 kilometers from the Capital International Airport. The park opened in 1993 and is estimated to receive 1.5 million visitors annually.
The park displays about 100 tourist attractions in a scaled-down version from nearly 50 countries around the world, including the Tower Bridge in London, the Eiffel tower in Paris, pyramids in Egypt, as well as the World Trade Center in New York.Besides world's famous attractions, the park also offers cultural activities. During the 2008 Summer Olympics, it was selected as one of the three protest zones.
Summer Palace: The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill (60 meters high) and the Kunming Lake. It covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is water. The central Kunming Lake covering 2.2 square kilometers was entirely man made and the excavated soil was used to build Longevity Hill. In its compact 70,000 square meters of building space, one finds a variety of palaces, gardens, and other classical-style architectural structures. The Summer Palace started out life as the Garden of Clear Ripples in 1750. Artisans reproduced the garden architecture styles of various palaces in China. Kunming Lake was created by extending an existing body of water to imitate the West Lake in Hangzhou. The palace complex suffered two major attacks--during the Anglo-French allied invasion of 1860 (with the Old Summer Palace also ransacked at the same time), and during the Boxer Rebellion, in an attack by the eight allied powers in 1900. The garden survived and was rebuilt in 1886 and 1902.
Tanzhe Temple: The Tanzhe Temple is a Buddhist temple situated in the Western Hills, a mountainous area in western Beijing. It is relatively well-known in Beijing. At one time, it was one of the most important temples in the nation. The temple is located at China National Highway 108 in the Mentougou District of Beijing.
Built in the Jin Dynasty (265�420), it has an age of around 1,600 years. The area of the entire temple is 100 mu (6.8 hectares), and its arrangement of halls is akin to that found in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Tanzhe Temple is one of the oldest temples in Beijing. The most of the existing buildings in the temple are from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and there are pagodas from various historical periods such as the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. The two "Emperor trees" by the Hall of three sages were planted during the Liao Dynasty about 1,000 years ago.
Temple of Heaven: The Temple of Heaven, or Tiantan, is China's largest temple and altar complex. It was the place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven and prayed for abundant harvests. As Chinese emperors called themselves Tianzi, or the son of heaven, they had to cede supremacy to the heaven in terms of abiding.
Apart from heaven, Chinese emperors also worshipped many other gods as well as their own ancestors. Therefore, god-worshipping was an important part of their busy schedules. Other than the Temple of Heaven, there are other temples of various kinds scattered in Beijing, including the Temple of Earth, the Temple of Sun and the Temple of the Moon. But the Temple of Heaven is the most important and the grandest of them all.
Forbidden City: The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace or Palace Museum, is located in the center of Beijing. Built between 1406 and 1420, it was the imperial residence of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing (1368-1911) dynasties. Today it has become one of the most important tourist attractions in Beijing.
The entire palace area, rectangular in shape and 720,000 square meters in size, takes up one-third of the 8 kilometer-long central axis of Beijing�s old city proper, from the city gate of Yongdingmen on the south to the Drum and Bell towers on the north. This harmonious assemblage of buildings displays the best characteristics of Chinese architecture -- majestic style, flawless construction, and fine coordination of the whole and the parts.
Beijing Zoo: The Beijing Zoo lies west of Xizhimen and is in the western part of Beijing, China. It was known for a short time after the founding of the People's Republic as Western Suburbs Park (Xijiao Gongyuan). Like many of Beijing's parks, areas of the zoo have the distinctive look of classical Chinese gardens. The grounds combine cultivated flower gardens with stretches of natural scenery, including dense groves of trees, stretches of grassland, a small stream, lotus pools and small hills dotted with pavilions and halls.
Flights to Beijing land at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), which is located about 20 km from downtown Beijing. From there, your best bet is take a cab to your hotel, which usually costs between 70-120 RMB. There's also an additional toll of 10 RMB for the airport expressway.
Beijing has many railway stations. Most trains arrive at the central, West, South or North stations. In the heart of the city, with decent public transport links. Destinations include: Changchun, Chengde, Dalian, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Harbin, Hefei, Jilin, Nanjing, Qiqihar, Shanghai, Shenyang, Suzhou, Tianjin, and Yangzhou.
Long-distance buses from areas as far as Shanghai and the Mongolian border connect to Beijing. You can reach areas as far as Harbin or Xi'an on a single bus ride. Beijing has over 20 long distance bus stations, but what you need to do is go to the bus station located on the edge of the city in the direction you want to travel.
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