located in the North, is the most modern city of China and home to over 10 million people.
It is the center of China's politics and a busy capital-city. As the seat of power of
Chinese emperors throughout the centuries, Beijing is steeped in history and 26 the
traditions of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911).
Reigning as both an ancient capital of Imperial China and the modern capital of a
thriving nation, Beijing retains plenty of evidence of its royal past, with aristocratic
parks, temples, and palaces (all open to the public). Beijing is home to an incredible
cultural display of art and historical artifacts in more than 50 museums, folk traditions
that flourish in theaters, delicious dining in exotic settings, and cultural centers with
fascinating demonstrations of centuries-old art and craft-making.
Nowhere else can you get a more concentrated impression of the old and new China. Beijing
is the treasure trove of Chinese culture, where many of the sights that make China a
world-class destination are located.
The Palace Museum
Also known as the Forbidden City, this 250-acre city-within-a-city complex began
construction during the Ming dynasty in 1406. It is the largest and most complete ancient
imperial palace in the world, with more than 800 buildings and 9,000 rooms. Home to 24
emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, but off-limits to commoners, it has been
transformed into a magnificent museum, where you can view an enormous collection of
cultural relics and precious art objects. The Outer Palace, at the museum's entrance, is
dominated by massive gates that lead to three great halls formerly used for official
purposes. To the rear, the Inner Palace contains the living quarters of the Imperial
Family, which was last occupied as the royal residence in 1924 by Puyi, the last emperor
Adjacent to the Forbidden City, as you exit, is the Children's Palace. Here, you can watch
as talented children are tutored in traditional Chinese arts. This is an extremely
enjoyable and entertaining complex of classrooms to visit the children are talented and
delight- f u I to watch.
Tiananmen Gate Tower
1651, the Gate of Heavenly Peace is located in front of the main entrance to the Forbidden
City. Across the street is the Square named after the gate. Covering 110 acres, it is the
largest public square in the world. Surrounding the square are many of China's most
impressive monuments, government buildings, and museums. Mao Zedong's Mausoleum and the
Great Hall of the People legislative building are located on either side of the square.
Tiananmen square is an excellent place for people watching and is a great location for a
wide-angle photo of the Forbidden City or any of the monuments.
The Great Wall
As you first look upon the Great Wall, it is impossible not to be awestruck at this
man-made structure. Construction started in the 7th century BC with additions and re-
building continuing until the 16th century AD. The Great Wall was built to keep out the
warring invaders of the north, but additional sections were extended eastward for nearly
Day tours are available to take you to view several sections of the Wall that are located
only a short drive from Beijing. The Badaling section is the most well preserved, and the
view as you climb to the top is stunning. Once on top, you can walk for a mile or so in
either direction, marveling at the commanding view of the Wall as it winds through the
mountains for miles. The rugged, beautiful Mutianyu section is another good place to view
the Wall, and to really appreciate the full extent of its magnitude. A cable car now
whisks visitors to the top in a few minutes and provides an excellent vantage point for
The Temple of Heaven - Tiantan Park
masterpiece of Ming architecture is one of the most photographed buildings in the world
for its elegant beauty and symmetry. Built in 1420, it was the place where Ming and Qing
emperors (Son of Heaven) prayed to heaven for a good harvest. Today, the Temple of Heaven
is surrounded by a 660-acre park, with music playing softly throughout the day. Within the
park complex, next to the Imperial Vault of Heaven, are the acoustically perfect Echo Wall
and Triple Sounds Stone. Early- mornings visitors can watch young and old practicing Tai
Ji and the ancient healing art of Qigong; or you can watch couples waltzing to classical
music next to a beautifully landscaped Rose Garden, and you are welcome to join them.
The Summer Palace
families as far back as a thousand years ago came to Kunming Lake for rest and recreation.
In 1750, a summer palace was built overlooking the peaceful lake. Today, you can stroll
along the famous 700 meter Long Corridor, with its beautiful Painted Gallery (each archway
depicts a different scene), and enjoy a peaceful afternoon next to Kunming Lake, soaking
in the majesty of China's imperial past. Famous features such as the Marble Boat,
Longevity Tower, 150 meters-long 17-arch bridge, and several magnificently painted
pavilions are stunning examples of Chinese architectural and construction genius.
Throughout the grounds are outstanding examples of classical Chinese gardening; the Summer
Palace has the largest imperial garden in China.
Adjacent to the Summer Palace is the newly reconstructed Suzhou Street, with its colorful
shops and royal tea gardens, a relaxing place to enjoy a meal.
The Ming Tombs
Large stone animals and human figures line the famous Sacred Way, the entrance to the
burial-grounds site. This long drive leads to a large mountain valley, where a complex of
tombs are set into the hillside sheltering well-preserved artifacts of 13 emperors from
the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). The entire complex covers all 13 hillsides of the valley.
The main tomb of Emperor Wanli (1562-1620 AD) is open to the public for exploration; some
sections have yet to be excavated. This is an- other excellent example of the grandeur of
the Ming dynasty. A typical day tour combines the Ming Tombs with several hours on the
Great Wall and then a visit at the Cloisonné factory on return.
Special tours can be arranged to the surviving traditional residential quarters, which are
called Huntong, in Beijing. The Hutongs are lanes or alleys that are flanked by quadrangle
courtyards. The quadrangle courtyard is an enclosure of one-storied houses on four sides.
Two thirds of these houses that existed hundreds of years have now been replaced by modern
buildings. One third, however, still remain, and many of the Hutongs with their
quadrangles are well preserved. Visitors may see how the local people adapt to life in
modern times while residing in their centuries-old neighborhoods. Riding in old-fashioned
pedicabs through these hutongs is something special for your Beijing trip.