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History & Evolution
Some 5000 years ago, settlements were thriving on basic agriculture and animal husbandry to the southwest of Beijing. The Story has it that the legendary Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) battled against the tribal leader Chiyou in Zhuolu, a town perhaps the site of the first metropolis in the area.
Previously known, the region has always remained the political capital of all the emperors and leaders. The first Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang) in early 3rd century BC set about conquering six states and unifying China and named the city as administrative center of Guangyang Commandery. For next 10 centuries, through to the end of Tang Dynasty (618-907), Ji remained a strategic trading and military center and the object of frequent power struggles. The Qidans (Khitans) followed the Tangs and moved south to occupy Ji and make it their second capital. They called the city Nanjing (Southern Capital) or Yanjing. Then came the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) that carried out reconstruction projects and built palaces, which were used as strongholds.
Emperors and dynasties came and went, each giving the city a new name like Yanjing, Zhongdu, Dadu, Khanbaliq, Beiping, and of course Beijing. First brought to the forefront of Chinese history by Genghis Khan, the Ming Dynasty secured its place in history with the building of the famous Forbidden City.
After a long period of imperial rule came the foreign invaders in 1860 like Great Britain and France who captured the region and forced Chinese government to concede the Legation Quarter for foreign settlements. This intrusion gave air to the Boxer Uprising in 1900.
Then came the civil wars during which the city exchanged hands repeatedly and eventually gave way to the establishment of Chinese Republic in 191112. Japan occupied the city after the famous Marco Polo Bridge incident in 1937 who made the city the capital of a puppet state.
The end of World War II also brought end to foreign concessions in 1946 and Beijing was entirely restored to Chinese sovereignty. Eventually the on Jan. 1949, the city fell to the Communists who designated it the capital of the newly founded People's Republic of China and restored the name Beijing.
Since then this capital city has spread well dotted with hundreds of new buildings, hotels, and cultural centers.
Categorized as one of the most famous historical and cultural cities in the world, Beijing has ample for attractions to lure.
The city is known for its beautiful and ancient temples whereas, sites Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square tell about the history of Beijing which is as old as 1000 years.
Its a symbolic city of China, housing most of the famous sites of the country and plenty to occupy yourself. Either shop for silk and painted ceramics, relax in a tea house with a soothing cup of Chinese tea, get educated in the arts at a performance of elegant Chinese opera or let your hair down at a sleek disco.
Forbidden City (the Palace Museum):
Also called as Gu Gong in Chinese, the forbidden City lies exactly at the center of Beijing. It is an imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties whose construction was started in 1407. For around 500 years this huge sanctum was off-limits to most of the world and thats why it is named The Forbidden City. Today this Forbidden City and its centerpiece- the magnificent palace is open to all visitors.
Comprising of total 800 buildings & 9,999 rooms, the complex is the biggest and best preserved complex of ancient buildings in China and the largest palace complex in the world.
Tiananmen Square not only serves as a symbol for Beijing but to the whole of China. Besides being the largest central city square in the world, this solemn courtyard is also famous for being witness to innumerable historical events.
Further, the square is surrounded by a variety of significant erections like Chinese Revolution History Museum, the Mao Mausoleum, Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen (Heavenly Peace Gate) Tower and the Qianmen (Front Gate).
Another exceptional experience of Tiananmen complex is the daily flag ceremonies performed during sunrise and sunset.
Location: Tiananmen Square
The Summer Palace:
Built on Kunming Lake, this magnificent Palace was built in 1750 by the Emperor Qianlong and continued to be an imperial residence until 1908. Recognized today as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex surrounding the palace contains small islands, ornamental bridges and a marble boat that was once a teahouse.
Along with beautiful palace are the stunning gardens that are open to visitors, who enter through the East Palace gate, pass through a grand courtyard into the Hall of Benevolent Longevity, the Hall of Jade Ripples and the Hall of Joyful Longevity.
Another must see is the Empress Cixis private theatre in the Garden of Moral Harmony with the Temple of Azure Clouds and Temple of the Sleeping Buddha in the vicinity. Better known as the Garden of Cultivating Peace and constructed by the Qing emperors, The Summer Palace is surely not to miss site of Beijing.
Location: Northwest Suburbs
Temple of Heaven:
Located at the south of Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven located within Temple of Heaven Park is China's largest temple complex. Built in 15th century by the Ming emperors to ask for good harvests, the temple has exquisite architecture with roofs that are covered with blue glazed tiles.
The grounds of the temple also include an Echo Wall.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site has area smaller than The Forbidden City as Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven; they dared not to build their own dwelling bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.
Location: Tian Tan Lu
Lama Temple (Yonghegong or Palace of Peace):
Situated in the northeast of the city and constructed in 17th century, The Lama Temple was built by Chinese emperors who harbored a deep fascination for the Tibetan (Tantric) version of Buddhism.
The temple was used to be the palace in which the son and successor of the Kangxi Emperor lived, but today it resides the monks (or lamas) who not only worships but also maintains the place.
The temple consists of series of five halls and contains an impressive 18m (59ft) Maitreya which is carved from a single sandalwood tree.
Location: Yonghe Gong Dajie
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