On Tiananmen Square, Mao declared the "Peoples Republic of China" in 1949. In 1989 Students demonstrated here for more democracy. On the largest square in the world, you will find the Mao Mausoleum and the Monument of the People's Heroes.
The Wanshou Mountain and the Kunming Lake, make this huge garden to one of the most beautiful places on earth. The construction of the garden started in 1750. In 1860 the colonial powers France and Britain destroyed parts of the garden, because China did not want to buy opium anymore.
The outstanding white stupa in Tibetan style, was erected in 1651 in honor of the Dalai Lama. Tip: Take the ferry to the other side of the lake. There you will find the famous "Nine Dragon Wall", the most beautiful view of the Beihai Park and dancing retirees.
In the red Drum Tower (Gulou) there are still the big signal drums, which were used to announcet the time. From the balcony of the Drum Tower, you will have a great view on the central axis of Beijing. To the north you can see the Bell Tower an dto the south the "Jingshan Park" (Coal Mound).
The Bell Tower (Zhonglou) forms the northern end of the central axis of Beijing, on which the Forbidden City and the coal mound were built. The 33 m high tower was built in 1747 and was erected after the previous building made of wood, was destroyed by a fire. Drum Tower and Bell Tower stand one behind the other, in a urban area marked by Hutongs. Bell Tower as seen from Drum Tower (Photo).
Emperor Qianlong turned the residence of his father, into a Lamaist temple complex in 1744. There are 6 halls on the central north-south axis. In the "hall of the infinite happiness" stands an 18 m high Buddha statue. The "Lama Temple" is the most famous temple in Beijing.
The southern city gate of Tian An Men Square was built during the Ming Dynastyin in 1421. Beijing consisted of an Inner City (Neicheng) and an Outer City (Waicheng). The Qianmen was a gate connecting both cities and had a more representative function.
The "Bai Yun Guan" is the most important Daoist temple in China. It is the seat of the Daoist society of China and is still used as a monastery. It was built in 741 under the name Tianchang Guan (Temple of the Wide Sky). In the Ming Dynasty it was rebuilt and received its present name. The Daoism is a very fine-minded philosophy, with a tendency to superstition, which makes the temple very popular among the locals. There are countless lucky charms in the temple complex. You can throw coins, touch an donkeyatn the place where you have pain and hope for relief, touch your zodiac and find your patron saint. The "White Cloud" is my favorite Temple in Beijing.
Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who lived about 500 BC and pursued the harmony of all people as a noble goal. Reaching this aim could be achieve best by aspiring scholarship. The Confucius Temple was built in 1306.
In the Buddhist temple of the Law Source "Fayuan Si" has survived Communism. Monks are learning the sacred writings of Buddhism. The whole area has been renovated recently and exudes a holy spirit and rich colors.
The former factory has turned into a magnificent art district. Galleries, designer shops and cafes in old industrial buildings, give the place a rugged atmosphere. The "798 Art District" is already commercialized, it is not as rough as it was 10 years ago. But it is still a place to be in Beijing and different from the rest of the city.
In the West Mountains, north of the Fragrant Hills, you will find the Temple of the Azure Cloud "Biyun Si". The temple complex built in 1331, was expanded in 1748 to built the Vajrasana Pagoda. Vajrayana is a Sanskrit word that means diamond vehicle and is used by many Buddhist schools. The architecture of the pagoda is also a reminiscent of Indian models and is very rare in China. The pedestal of the pagodas are richly decorated with Buddha and Bodhisattva figures.
The construction of the Great Wall started around 700 BC. The bulwark against nomads from Mongolia, consists of many sections, together they are the longest building in the world. The chinese "Great Wall" is one of the top sights of the planet.
Welcome to Beijing
Beijing is the capital of China, with about 12 million inhabitants. The city was already capital of the Yan from 500 BC onward. At this time, the city was called "Yanjing" (capital of Yan). After conquering China, the Mongols also made this city to their capital. They called the city "Dadu" (Great Capital) and rebuilt it completely new, creating the right-angled street pattern, that still characterizes Beijing today. Beijing has built many important sights in its long history. The main attractions include the "Forbidden City", the "Summer Palace", the "Temple of Heaven", the "Lama Temple", the "Ming Tombs" and the "Great Wall of China".
The historic center of Beijing is shaped like a square, with the "Forbidden City" as center. The north-south axis divides Beijing into east and west. Streets west of the street get the suffix "Xi" (west), those to the east end on "Dong" (east). Between Fuchengmen and Chaoyangmen the division runs in north-south direction, "Bei" 8north) and "Nan" (south).
The subway network was expanded for the 2008 Olympics. You can now get to all major sights in Beijing by Underground. Even the "Summer Palace" and the airport are part of the metro network.
Buses are slow and the routes are difficult to understand for foreigners. If you do not get a taxi, you can take a bus in the direction of your destination. The buses usually run on straight routes, taking you to a metro station.
Taxi drivers usually do not speak English. You should have the address of your destination, written in Chinese at hand. The English name of a hotel or place might be totally different from the chinese name, the taxi drive will have no idea were you want to go. Sometimes it is very hard to get a taxi. Foreigners are not welcome, because the communication is too difficult. In addition, a "surcharge" is required, especially at the "Wangfujing" and other tourist attractions.
On the shopping streets tourists are often addressed by "students" who want to learn English. The goal is actually to lure the tourists into stores or to attend a tea ceremony. At the "tea ceremony", the guest tastes different teas and then receives a dearly bill. If you hear "tea-ceremony" be cautious.