Top 10 Beijing Historical Sites

Beijing is a city of a long history and rich culture. Over the centuries, it has been the political and cultural center of China. Though the reign of the emperors ended, the traces of the history remains. The following is a list of  Top 10 Beijing Historical Sites for reference.

1. The Great Wall

What comes to you first when people talk about China? Perhaps the answer is the Great Wall. It is one of the greatest man-made wonders over the world. It was built as an ancient military defense project which was actually worked in the history. The Great Wall integrally preserves all the material and spiritual elements and historical and cultural information that carry its outstanding universal value. The complete route of the Great Wall over 20,000  kilometers, as well as elements constructed in different historical periods have been preserved to the present day. As a cultural heritage, the Wall belongs not only to China but to the world. >>More

2. The Forbidden City

Built about 600 years ago, the Forbidden City has played an important role in Chinese history. It was the imperial palace of Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty from Emperor Yongle. Have you ever wanted to catch a glimpse of the life of ancient emperors? This palace is definitely the answer. There are over 8000 rooms in the palace. The palace area is divided into two parts: the Outer Court and the Inner Palace. The former is the place where the emperor received his courtiers and conducted grand ceremonies, while the latter was the living quarters for the imperial residence. The Forbidden City was  the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. >>More

3. The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is the largest and best-preserved royal garden in China. It is a blend of natural scenery and artificial landscape. The mountains, waters and architecture together form picturesque scenes that are amazingly beautiful. UNESCO declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value.” It is a popular tourist destination but also serves as a recreational park. >>More

4. Ming Tombs

The Ming Tombs are the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The harmonious integration of remarkable architectural groups in a natural environment chosen to meet the criteria of geomancy (Fengshui) makes the Ming Imperial Tombs masterpieces of human creative genius. So far, three of them are open to the public. They are Changling Tomb, Dingling Tomb and Zhaoling Tomb. Dingling Tomb is the only tomb of the thirteen to be excavated. >>More

5. Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian

The Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian is located on the Longgu Mountain of Zhoukoudian Village in Fangshan District, 48km in the southwest of Beijing. It is a place where mountainous region borders upon the plain, with North China Great Plain in the southeast and mountains in the northwest. The mountains around Zhoukoudian are mostly made up of limestone which, under the erosion of dripping water, formed up into caves of various sizes. On the mountains, there is a natural cave about 140m long running from east to west, known as Peking Man Cave. In 1929, it was in this cave that remains of ancient man was for the first time uncovered and the place was named Zhoukoudian First Site.

6. Yuanmingyuan Imperial Garden

The original Yuanmingyuan was located southeast of the current Summer Palace and just north of Peking University’s campus. Construction began in the early Qing dynasty (1709) and took nearly 150 years to complete.  It was completely destroyed in 1860 by British and French troops in a 3 day invasion during the Opium War. All that remains is a few columns and scattered piles of marble rubble.

7. Drum&Bell Tower

The Drum and Bell Towers (GuLou & ZhongLou) are situated at the northern end of the central axis of the Inner City, to the east of HouHai. Drum and Bell Towers are a common feature of Chinese cities – and of Chinese temples. Bells and drums were musical instruments in ancient China. Later, they were used to announce the time – the Bell Tower and Drum Tower had this function during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The times and patterns varied, but in general only the bell was rung during the night. You can still hear the beats from the ancient Drum Tower even now.

8.  Beijing Ancient Observatory

Beijing Ancient Observatory was first built in 1442 in the Ming Dynasty(1368—1644), and was the national observatory in the Ming and Qing Dynasty(1644—1911). It is about 14 meters high with 8 astronomical instruments made in Qing Dynasty. Its rich history spans more than five hundred years, making it one of the most historically interesting observatories in the world. It is also famous for its intact and integrated instruments.

9. Yuandadu Relics

The Yuan Dynasty Dadu City Wall Relics Park is touted as the first and the largest “open air museum” in Beijing. It is also the biggest ticket-free park and has the largest grassland, with birds singing and trees flourishing. The park is divided into the Chaoyang section and the Haidian section. The Chaoyang section is 4.8 kilometers long and 130 to 160 meters wide and takes up an area of 67 hectares. If linked with the Haidian section, the park becomes the largest belt-shaped park in Beijing with a total length of 9 kilometers.

10. Lugou Bridge

Lugou Qiao, also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, is one of earliest segmented stone arch bridge about 16 km in the outside of Beijing. The bridge is 260 meters long and has 250 marble balustrades supporting 485 carved stone lions. First built in 1192, the original arches were washed away in the 17th century. The bridge is a composite of different eras, widened in 1969 to span the Yongding River near the town of Wanping.

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