Beijing is both one of China’s most modern, aspiring cities and a true ancient citadel. The architecture of the capital reflects every major mood swing in Chinese history, from 1949 until today. One moment, you are looking up at a foreboding Soviet-style monument, and in the next you spy a shimmering tower emerging from the footprint of a long lost temple. This combination of the past with the present gives Beijing a unique energy that really represents modern China as a whole.
Start your journey at one of Beijing’s oldest sites, the spectacular and unforgettable Great Wall. First constructed during the 6th century, the Great Wall spans more than 21,000 Kilometers and offers wonderful views of the mountains and woodlands that surround Beijing. Visitors can explore the wall at six different sites within the capital, but the views from Mutianyu are most incredible. The climb to the wall is strenuous, but cable cars offer breathtaking rides to the top of the tallest restored section.
Delve into the city’s imperial history at the Forbidden City, where the Imperial Palace holds over 9,000 rooms and spans more than 250 acres. Once off limits for half a century, the complex now welcomes millions of visitors each year. It is the world’s largest palace complex, and it greets visitors with winding lanes, magnificent halls and stately courtyards that convey Imperial China’s pomp and circumstance. The very heart of the palace is the Hall of Heavenly Purity, where emperors held birthday parties and weddings for their relatives. Ornate, decadent and extraordinarily extravagant, every inch of the hall awe-inspiring and eye-catching. The Gallery of Treasures holds even more wonders, filled with breathtaking examples of imperial arts, including wine vessels, golden pagodas, carved jade and the original 25 imperial seats. The exterior of the palace is even more lovely. The Imperial Gardens lie just outside of the Gate of Earthly Tranquility, welcoming visitors with ancient cypress trees and winding mosaic pathways.
Fast forward through history to 1989, when student demonstrators were famously killed at Tienanmen Square at the height of the Cultural Revolution. Today, the world’s largest public square is constantly packed with tourists, locals and undercover policemen. Although the square is quite bleak, offering no benches, trees or shade, it is worth a visit for its historical significance and towering Monument to the People’s Heroes, which stands in commemoration of those who died for the country’s revolutionary cause.
Other remarkable sights within the capital include the Summer Palace, a 290-acre retreat for emperors filled with old pavilions and rich temples, the Temple of Heaven, one of China’s most sacred places, and the Ming Tombs, the final resting place of most of the emperors of the Ming Dynasty.
Beijing doesn’t sleep, and visitors can find something exciting happening at all hours of the day or night. The city has reinvented itself as a party town that rivals even Shanghai, and the result is now an option for every breed of reveler, from swanky cocktail lounges to hole-in-the-wall pubs and everything in between. Locals love to celebrate anything and everything at the bars in Sanlitun, Beijing’s nightlife capital. There, you can dance to live music, sing to your heart’s delight at the many karaoke bars or party all night long at an underground club. For a more sophisticated evening, take in an avant-garde film at one of the capital’s many cinemas or be dazzled with the visual extravaganzas put on by the Beijing opera.
Beijing Geographical Location
Beijing is located in the northeast of China on the northern tip of the North China Plain.
The approximate population of Beijing is 19,615,000.
Mandarin is spoken by the majority of the population but Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Tibet.
Beijing Predominant Religion
Daoists and Buddhists make up the majority of the religious population with a small percentage of Christians and Muslims.
Religious freedom is given to members of government-approved religious organizations but China is officially an Atheist country.
The Chinese Yuan is the official currency of China.
The summers in Beijing are hot and humid while the winters are usually cold and windy. The majority of rain falls in the summer.
Beijing Main Attractions
- Great Wall of China
- Forbidden City
- Tiananmen Square
Other Attractions in Beijing
- Summer Palace
- Temple of Heaven
- Ming Tombs
- Lama Temple