Situated in the western outskirts of Haidian District, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, it was designated, in 1960 by the State Council, as a Key Cultural Relics Protection Site of China. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. The Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world.
Originally built in 1750, the imperial garden complex experienced several restorations and extensions throughout the late Qing Dynasty (1368 – 1644). Garden buildings at present are the result of the restoration in 1902.
Like most garden architecture in China, the design of the Summer Palace has borrowed from nature bringing mountains and lakes into a whole with a variety of palace buildings, temple structures and pavilions, pagodas and other garden constructions added to create a splendid paradise.
The Great Wall
The Great Wall of China, one of the greatest wonders of the world, was enlisted in the World Heritage by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1987. Just like a gigantic dragon, the Great Wall winds up and down across deserts, grasslands, mountains and plateaus, stretching approximately 6,700 kilometers (4,163 miles) from east to west of China. With a history of more than 2,000 years, some of the sections of the great wall are now in ruins or even entirely disappeared. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world owing to its architectural grandeur and historical significance.
The Great Wall of China, also known in China as the Great Wall of 10,000, is an ancient Chinese fortification built from the end of the 14th century until the beginning of the 17th century, during the Ming Dynasty, in order to protect China from raids by the Mongols and Turkic tribes. It was preceded by several walls built since the 3rd century B.C. against the raids of nomadic tribes coming from areas now in modern day Mongolia and Manchuria.
The Great Wall is one of the most magnificent ancient defense works in the world. All tourists now know the saying, “You are not a real person until you have climbed the Great Wall.”
Located at the foot of Tianshou Mountain in Changping District, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the city area of Beijing, Ming Tombs is actually a range of imperial mausoleum constructions of thirteen of the sixteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). Surrounded by lofty mountain ranges, the whole scenic area covers an area of 120 square kilometers (46 square miles) and is reputed to be the best preserved tomb architecture of its kind in China.
One of the more impressive sights at the Ming Tombs is the Sacred Way. The Sacred Way runs for about a kilometer and is flanked on both sides by carvings of human and animal figures. There are 12 large stone human figures and 24 animal figures, all carved from single blocks of granite in 1435 during the 10th year of reign of Emperor Xuan De.
Occupying an area of 23,300 square meters (about 5.8 acres); the Lingering Garden is located outside Changmen Gate in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. Originally a classical private garden, it is one of the four most famous gardens in China. Possessing typical Qing style, it is well-known for the exquisite beauty of its magnificent halls, and the various sizes, shapes and colors of the buildings. In 1997, the garden was recorded on the list of the world heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
With a history of more than 400 years, the Lingering Garden has changed hands several times. Each owner did his best to perfect the garden. It was first built in 1593 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) by a retired official named Xu Tai. During the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), it was bought by Liu Shu. As a calligraphy lover, he carved masterpieces on both sides of the corridors of the buildings. He had also collected unusually-shaped stones in the garden. The succeeding owners followed his model when doing restoration work. Almost demolished in the 1930s, the garden was repaired and sponsored by the government then opened to the public.
Tiger Hill Pagoda
Tiger Hill (Hu Qiu) is the most famous sight of Suzhou, with old trees and cultural relics everywhere: the Sword Testing Stone, the Broken Beam Hall, the Thousand Men Rock, the Sword Pond, etc. The millennium-old Yunyan Pagoda, also known as the Leaning Tower, stands on top of the hill and is regarded as the symbol of Suzhou. “It’s a pity of a lifetime if you have been to Suzhou but missed the Tiger Hill,” said Su Shi, the Song Poet.
This is the smallest garden in Suzhou, only one tenth the size of Zhouzheng Yuan. It is so small; you might think that Tiger Hill is actually an artificial hill. It is 36 meters high and is set in a 20-hectare park. Near the top of the hill is the burial place of the founding father of Suzhou, King He Lu, who died in 600 B.C. It was said that a white tiger occasionally appeared to guard the tomb; hence the name for the hill.
Being one of the most famous temples in Chinese history, Hanshan Temple often boasts about its bell rings. The bell in the tower now was modeled on the previous bell in 1904. Cold Mountain Temple is also a Buddhism temple. The statue of the Buddhist patriarch Sakyamuni is in the Grand Prayer Hall for people to make offerings to.
|Yu Garden / The Old City
The Yu Gardens, also known as the Yu Yuan Gardens, is likely the most celebrated classical Chinese gardens in Shanghai. Found in the northeast of the old town and numbering over five acres in total area, the Yu Gardens of China are one of the country’s most popular natural landmarks, even going so far to being labeled “an architectural miracle in the region south of Yangtze River.”
Yu Yuan Gardens was first built in 1559 and it took workers almost 20 years to complete. The landscape seems to wind on forever – the gardens are purposefully designed to distort space and distance. You can hardly take a step in these gardens of China without coming across some kind of wood carving or engraving. Emblematic of the gardening style of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Yu Gardens is a maze of pavilions, grottoes, lotus ponds and rickety bridges crossing lazy streams. Though the gardens in Suzhou often get more critical praise, the Yu Gardens Shanghai attract far more visitors each year, and only partially due to their convenient location in one of the largest cities in Asia.
The Bund (Waitan) is one of the most recognizable architectural symbols of Shanghai. “Bund” derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront and that is what it was in the beginning when the first British company opened an office there in 1846. Located on the west bank of a bend (running north and south at this point) in the Huangpu River and just south of Suzhou Creek, the Bund became the site of some of the earliest foreign settlements after Shanghai was opened as one of five “Treaty Ports” in the Treaty of Nanjing that ended the Opium War in 1842. Because of its proximity to the Yangtze (Changjiang) River – the path into central China, Shanghai grew rapidly as the economic center of foreign interests.
Regarded as a landmark as well as the birthplace of Shanghai, the Bund, 1 km long, is dotted with various grandiose, solid buildings of western style dating back to the early 20th century. Due to these imposing buildings, the Bund is also reputed as an “international exhibition of architecture.” Compared to the west side, east of the Bund is a newly developing Shanghai. A 647 meter long sightseeing tunnel, connecting the Bund to the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, was completed and opened to the public in October 2000, through which visitors experience a marvelous trip under water.
The Tiananmen Square, in the center of Beijing, is said to be the biggest square in the world. It is 880 meters from north to south and 500 meters from east to west, with total area of 440,000 square meters and can hold one million people.
At the north end of the Square is Tiananmen Tower. Initially built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644), the Square was the front door of the Forbidden City. The most important use of it in the past was to declare, during a big ceremony to the common people, who became the emperor and who became the empress. Until 1911 when the last feudal kingdom was over, no one could enter the Tower except for the royal family and aristocrats.
You can visit Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People’s Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and see the national flag raising ceremony. Thousands of people come to the Square every day. It is the must place to visit in Beijing City.
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile visiting place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves ‘The Son of Heaven,’ they dared not to build their own dwelling, ‘Forbidden City’ bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of ‘The heaven is round and the earth is square.’
Palace Museum / The Forbidden City
Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the world’s largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings. The wall has a gate on each side. Opposite the Tiananmen Gate, to the north is the Gate of Devine Might (Shenwumen), which faces Jingshan Park.
Construction of the palace complex began in 1407, the 5th year of the Yongle reign – the third emperor of the Ming dynasty. It was completed thirteen years later in 1420. It was said that a million workers including one hundred thousand artisans were driven into the long-term hard labor. Ancient Chinese people displayed their very considerable skills in building the Forbidden City. Take the grand red city wall for example. It has an 8.6 meter wide base reducing to 6.66 meters wide at the top. The angular shape of the wall totally frustrates attempts to climb it. The bricks were made from white lime and glutinous rice while the cement is made from glutinous rice and egg whites. These incredible materials make the wall extraordinarily strong.
Acrobatic Show in Beijing
The Beijing acrobatic troupe is a first class troupe in China, some of the performances of which have been awarded with gold medals from time to time through the International Acrobatic Competition.