The charm of Beijing, open-air temple
China is close, closer than you think. And contact with the ancient culture of this great oriental nation is best experienced in Beijing, capital and centre of political, cultural and international exchange of the country.
Its history dates back to Homo Pekinensis, who lived 700,000 years ago in the Pleistocene era. This explains why this capital of the Orient boasts numerous sites of historic interest and great monuments, such as the Forbidden City with its vast complex of buildings, the Great Wall, known for being one of the eight wonders of the world.
The Temple of Heaven, the Ming tombs and the Summer Palace: symbols of ancient Chinese culture and at the same time tourist attractions.
Known also as the Palace Museum, the Forbidden City was the imperial residence of 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Built in 1406, it has four entrance gateways: the Meridian Gate to the south, the East Glorious Gate, the West Glorious Gate and the Gate of Divine Might to the north. Each corner of the Forbidden City has a unique lookout tower. It is surrounded by a high red-coloured wall and has 9,999 rooms.
Situated in the heart of Beijing, Tiananmen Square covers an area of 440,000 square metres. Attractions include the Monument to the People’s Heroes at its centre and the Mausoleum of President Mao Ze Dong and two imposing gateways. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, Tiananmen Gate was the main entrance to the imperial palace. The early morning flag raising ceremony has become one of the most important attractions of Tiananmen Square.
Surrounded by somewhat high mountains and hills, the outskirts of Beijing offer an enchanting natural landscape of evergreen trees, ancient temples, water courses, waterfalls and peasant villages that have retained their simplicity. As the city has developed, cultural areas and places for leisure time have increased like bamboo shoots after a spring rain and include amusement parks, zoos, botanical gardens, squares and parks that enrich Beijing with further charm.
The Fragrant Hills Park, in the western outskirts of the city, is one of the most striking and panoramic places and is also known as the “Sunny Western Hills shimmering in snow”. The park is at its most beautiful during the autumn when the leaves of its 100,000 trees are tinged red. Among the other numerous green areas, the Purple Bamboo Park, surrounded by lakes and natural pools, is a vast and refined garden of bamboo and rocks.
The hutong, narrow alleyways of the old city structure, are a unique feature of the capital. There are many different types dotted around the city, each with its own particular characteristic. A ride through the hutong on a cycle rickshaw is a good way to see the historical area of the city and witness some of the city’s traditions.
The Chang’An Grand Theatre hosts performances of Beijing Opera, which is considered the quintessence of Chinese culture and one of the country’s major attractions. Visitors to the Laoshe Tea House can enjoy opera performances while sipping their tea, and the traditional performances at the Tianqiao Tea House completely charm its customers.The aromatic tea and operas at the Beijing Tea House attract numerous visitors every day. Even the tea ceremony in some of the newer tea houses is a source of attraction for many.
Text by Luca Lembi
Published on Avion Tourism N41
Updated July 2019
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