Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and is the centre of government, economy, culture, and international activitities, as well as a transportation hub. It has 18 districts and counties, with an area of 16,800 square kilometres and a population of 12 million. Beijing has a long history. As early as 500,000 years ago, Peking Man lived there. It is alos an ancient cultural city. It was established in 1045 B.C. and for 800 years served as the capital of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. Beijing is also known as a tourist city for its many places of interest, including ancient buildings, royal gardens, temples, palaces, and modern structures. It is a gathering place of artists and other people of talent.

Forbidden City: Forbidden City lies in the centre of Beijing. Built between 1406 and 1420, it served as the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing dynasties. It has 9,000 halls and rooms, containing many precious relics. It is the largest palace in the world and one of the mankind’s major cultural legacies.

Tian’anmen Square: Located in the centre of Beijing, Tian’anmen Square covers 400,00 square metres. It is the largest city square in the world.

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 centre of Chinese national emblem. The inauguration ceremony of the P.R. China was held at Tian’anmen on October 1, 1949.

Yonghegong Lamasery: Built in 1694, the Yonghegong Lamasery is the largest lamasery in Beijing. In the tower there is a standing figure of the Buddhist saint maitreya carved in sandalwood, eight metres in diametre and 26 metres tall. Now there are about 70 lamas in this temple. For a small fee, you can also get the lamas to bless things for you, usually jade pendants and the like. The Summer Palace: The Summer Palace was a grand imperial palace and a royal garden of the Qing Dynasty. It is an outstanding example of imperial gardens in classical Chinese style. Hutong: Hutongs are a special feature of downtown Beijing, where there are 4,550 of them. A hutong is a kind of lane lined on both sides by courtyards containing compound houses. The best-preserved hutongs are those around the Mansion of Prince Yixin. Riding in Old-fashioned pedicabs through these hutongs is something specials for your Beijing trip.

The Great Wall: To the northwest and north of Beijing, a huge, serrated wall zigzags its way to the east and west along the undulating mountains. This is the Great Wall, which is said to be visible from the moon. Construction of the Great Wall started in the 7th century B.C. The vassal states under the Chou Dynasty in the northern parts of the country each built their own walls for defense purposes. After the state of Chin unified China in 221 B.C., it joined the walls to hold off the invaders from the Tsongnoo tribes in the north and extended them to more than 10,000 li or 5,000 kilometers. This is the origin of the name of the 10,000-li Great Wall. It was renovated from time to time after the Chin Dynasty. A major renovation started with the founding of the Ming Dynasty in 1368, and took 200 years to complete. The wall we see today is almost exactly the result of this effort.

The Ming Tombs: Covering an area of 40 square kilometers, the Ming Tombs is a group of mausoleums of 13 Ming emperors and their empresses and concubines. Two of the tombs, Changling and Dingling, are open to the public. The most famous is the Dingling, an underground palace.

The Temple of Heaven: The Temple of Heaven, built in 1420, is the place where emperors of the Ming and Qing would pray to Heaven for good harvests. It is the largest temple complex in China.

Beihai Park: Beihai Park was the imperial garden of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties. It is one of the oldest of the Chinese gardens.

Beijing Zoo: The Beijing Zoo is the oldest zoo in China and has a wide variety of animals, including the giant panda, the golden monkey, the white-lipped deer, the red-crowned crane, and many rare animals from other parts of the world.

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