Beijing is endowed with rare cultural heritage by its long history. The Great Wall, one of the world wonders and the only piece of man-made architecture that can be seen from the space, meanders through mountains and valleys for hundreds of kilometers in the region of Beijing. The poetic and picturesque Summer Palace is a classic work of the imperial garden. The Forbidden City is the most splendid architectural complex of imperial palaces in the world. The Temple of Heaven is the place of worship for emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties as well as a masterpiece of ancient Chinese architectural art. The above four have all been listed in the World Cultural Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Hutongs and the dwelling compounds (quadrangles or Siheyuan) are of the most Beijing flavored. They have witnessed the ups and downs of the city in the past centuries and are a symbol of the life of Beijing people.
Changes have been taking place day by day in Beijing as China's deepening reform and opening-up. As a popular saying going around here, Beijing is growing taller with more massive buildings springing up, greener with trees and grass covered all over the city, and younger with people leading a richer and more colorful life in Beijing. It has full confidence to advance at a greater pace in the 21st century. This is Beijing, old as well as young, full of charm. It is our sincere hope that you will make best use of your time here to see around. We believe that you will harvest a lot.
Beijing in Chinese means "capital in the north". The history of Beijing as a city can be traced back to over 3000 years ago. From 1272 to 1911, Beijing was the capital of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Beijing became the capital of new China.
Beijing is located at 115°20′ to 117°32′ east longitude and 39°23′ to 41°05′ north altitude, the same altitude as Rome, Madrid and Philadelphia. Hebei Province and Tianjin are its close neighbors. The total land area of Beijing is 16,808 square kilometers, among which the mountain area accounts for 62% distributed in its western, northern and northeastern parts, and the plain accounts for 38% distributed in its southern and southeastern parts.
Beijing lies in the continental monsoon region in the warm temperature zone. The spring and autumn in Beijing are dry and shorter while the summer and winter are relatively longer. October in Beijing is the best season with plenty sunshine, less rain and wind, and fresh air. Yet there is a contrast of temperature between day and night. The end of June is early summer, and the climate is suitable.
Chinese people value the traditions, respect the old and regard the family hierarchy. The Chinese nod or bow slightly as a greeting, and shake hands in formal occasions saying "Ni Hao (How are you?)". They are not used to hugging. Culture and Ecology Overview
（1）Jingju (Beijing Opera)
It is suggested you watch "Jingju"--the special Chinese art genre. Many people translate "Jingju" into "Beijing Opera", but actually "Jingju" is different from operas performed in Beijing.
Jingju is a special Chinese art genre, with a history of 200 years. It is regarded as "the quintessence of China". Jingju has four forms of performance: "Chang, Nian, Zuo, Da". "Chang" is analogous to singing in opera, but the tone-pattern is special; "Nian" is similar to reading in drama, but the pronunciation of some words is far different from that of modern Chinese word; "Zuo" and "Da" resembles dancing, using movements to describe the plot, which is easy for the foreign guests to understand. In a Jingju performance, actors wear costumes manifest enough to show their identity. There are strict rules of the patterns and styles of the costumes and misdressing is by no means allowed; while performing, the actor's face is colored with various standard patterns, suggesting loyalty, duplicity, pulchritude, ugliness, wit or stupidity, etc, of that role.
If you want to enjoy a Jingju performance yet you are not familiar with it, you'd better have an interpreter who has knowledge of it to go with you.
Beijing has several theatres that maintain the style of ancient buildings, which are particularly used to perform Jingju. The theatre and the performance serve as a foil to each other, making each other brighter and more colorful. The Great Chang'an Theatre, the Huguang Club and the Laoshe Tea House are among the celebrated theatres.
（2）The Temple of Confucius
In Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasty, the Temple of Confucius was used to worship Confucius. The temple was built in 1302 and was reconstructed in Ming and Qing dynasties. In 1904, the thirtieth year of Emperor GuangXu, the worship of Confucius was further emphasized, thus the major hall underwent extensive restoration. In front of the temple stand one colored-glaze wall and one dismounting stele. "Officers must dismount here" was engraved by 6 different languages including Manchu and Chinese on both sides of the stele.
Inside the hall are arranged 198 stone tablets bearing the names of the Advanced Scholars of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties who passed the triennial imperial examinations. To the north of the gate was the main hall-Hall of Great Accomplishment with Confucius' memorial tablet, where the emperors of Yuan, Ming and Qing worshipped Confucius. The hall is about 16.4 meters in width and 5 meters in length. On the west and east sides of the main hall stand the side-halls where 72 disciples of Master Confucius were worshiped. The Worship Hall at the back of the main hall was used to worship Confucius's ancestors.
（3）Imperial Palace, GuGong (Forbidden City)
The Imperial Palace was started in the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) and was built anew by the Ming Dynasty Yongle Emperor in 1406, and completed in 1420. In 1644, it was sacked by the Manchu troops under Doergun, who overthrew the Ming Dynasty. The succeeding Qing Dynasty Shunzi, Kangxi and Yongzhen Emperors restored the buildings, and it was further renovated to its unique beauty by the Qianlong Emperor. The Forbidden City was the residence for 24 Ming and Qing emperors. A full description will take a whole book, so I will only feature the important points.
The walled area of the Forbidden City serves as the residence and office of the Imperial family and their household staffs, as well as the offices of the ministers and favored officials. The whole compound has some nine thousand rooms capable of housing the imperial family, administrators, eunuchs, maids and soldiers. The population numbered some 9000 women and 100,000 eunuchs at the end of the Ming Dynasty, and 300 plus women and 2000 odd eunuchs in the Qing Dynasty.
Most structures are of wood. The foundation is of stone and the roofs of yellow glazed tiles. The city is surrounded at its boundary by a ten meter high red wall and a fifty meter wide moat. An exemption to imperial yellow tiling was for the library where the tiles were black to symbolize water and capable of suppressing fire. Each imperial door has nine rows of nine knobs, a total of 81, as an imperial designation that the number nine is an imperial number. The dragons all have five claws to as an imperial symbol. Commoners using the nine knobs and the five dragon claws faced execution.
The layout of the Forbidden City with its six main axial buildings is very simple. The front is the southern entrance and one enters the main attractions facing northwards. On a north-south axis, the compound is divided into two complexes, the southern outer courtyard with three principal halls (Taihedian, Zhonghedian and Baohedian), and northern inner courtyard of another three main buildings made up of two palaces and one hall (Qiangonggong, Jiaotaidian, Kunnunggong). The administrative area is the larger southern outer sector and the private quarters are to the smaller northern inner sector. Secondary halls and palaces are to both sides of this central axis.
It is not enough to see the Forbidden City in one morning or afternoon as on the usual tourist itinerary.
（4）The Temple of Heaven
It is situated at the southeastern part of Beijing. Built in 1420, it was a place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshiped heaven and prayed for good harvests. There are two parts, one inside and one outside. The main buildings are inside where you can choose to visit the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Echo Wall and the Circular Mound Altar.
The 38-meter-high Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the typical building of the Temple of Heaven. Its roof was built with blue glazed tiles, which symbolizes the blue sky.
The Echo Wall is a round wall along which a mere whisper can be heard clearly at the other hand. This phenomenon is an application of the acoustics theory. In front of the steps leading down from the hall is the Triple-Sound Stones. If you stand on the first stone and clap your hands, the sound will be echoed once. On the second stone, the sound will be heard twice. So what about on the third stone? You can find out at the place.
The Circular Mound Altar is a three-terraced stone plot in the open air. The numbers of the stones used in the paved slabs on its surface, steps and the balustrades are all multiples of 9. There was a legend in China saying that the Heaven had nine floors and the ninth floor was the place where the Heavenly Emperor lived. If you are interested in it, you may count by yourself.
（5）The Summer Palace
It used to be the resort and garden of the emperor. It is located in the northwestern suburb of Beijing, 10 miles away from the city proper. It was destroyed by the foreign invaders in 1860 and was rebuilt in 1888. Covering an area of 290 hectares, it has a large number of buildings. It would take you more than three days to visit them all, so it is recommended that you choose spots selectively.
The Tower of Buddha Incense-the highest building located at the core of the Summer Palace. 41 meters high, it has countless Buddha figurines on the surface of the building. If you climb to top of the Tower of Buddha Incense, you can get a whole picture of the Summer Palace.
Long Corridor-728 meters long with 273 sections. It has been recorded in the Guinness World Records as the world's longest corridor. Every horizontal pillar has color paintings, expressing artistically the classic stories and poems popular in China. You can test your knowledge of the Chinese culture by choosing one of the paintings as a topic.
Arc Bridge-150 meters with seventeen arcs.
Marble Boat-made of stones with a foreign style of superstructure.
West Dam-built modeling Su Dam of the West Lake in Hangzhou. If you plan to visit Hangzhou after the meeting, we suggest you visit it so that you can have a comparison. If you do not plan to visit, we suggest you visit it too since seeing the West Dam is comparable to a visit to Hangzhou.
（6）The Yonghegong Lamasery
The Yonghegong Lamasery was built in Kangxi 33rd year of Qing Dynasty (A.D 1694) to be the palatial residence of Emperor Yongzheng before he succeeded to the throne. In Qianlong 9th year (A.D 1744), it was converted to a lamasery.
The Yonghegong Lamasery mainly consists of three exquisite memorial arches and five magnificent audience halls. The whole building covers 66,400 sq. meters, integrating the characterristics of ethnic groups as Han, Man, Mongolia and Zang, which shows that the brilliant Chinese culture was created by the people of all ethnic groups together. The Buddha in the lamasery is named Maitreya, which was carved from a 26 meter-long, 8 meter-diametric sandalwood tree. This a-thousand-year old tree was found by the people sent by the Seventh Dalai Lama and was carried to Beijing by manpower through great difficulty. It is interesting that the modern subway of loop line just passes under the temple. The exit in the north wall, which seems like the gate of the temple, is just the exit of subway station.
（7）The Great Wall
Great Wall of China was an ancient gigantic defensive project. It's one of the biggest construction tasks ever finished. Great Wall of China is one of the wonders in the world. It winds its way westward above the vast territory of China from the bank of the Yalu River and ends at the foot of snow-covered Qilianshan and Tianshan mountains. It's seldom that we see this kind of a gigantic undertaking in China or elsewhere around the world. The Chinese people call it the Wall of 10,000 li. Due to astronauts who looked back from the moon, of all projects created by guy, the Great Wall of China may be the most conspicuous witnessed in space.
Wish you a nice stay here! Welcome back to China again in the future!