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Top 15 Places To Visit In Beijing

Beijing, China

Beijing, China’s sprawling capital, has a history stretching back 3 millennia. Yet it’s known as much for modern architecture as its ancient sites such as the grand Forbidden City complex, and the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Nearby, the massive Tiananmen Square pedestrian plaza is the site of Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the National Museum of China, displaying a vast collection of cultural relics.

Here are the Top 15 Places to Visit in Beijing, which are worth visiting on a Beijing trip:

1. The Great Wall of China

Beijing is only an hour away from what is undoubtedly one of the country's most famous historic structures: the Great Wall of China. Here at Badaling Pass, the first part of the Wall to be opened to tourists in the 1950s, you can enjoy a walk along an impressive section of the Great Wall dating from the 16th century and standing up to eight meters high.

Along the way, you'll be able to enjoy numerous towers and parapets offering superb views over the surrounding dramatic scenery. While a hilly walk, you can in fact take a pleasant cable-car ride up to the wall.

2. Forbidden City

The Forbidden City is a 180-acre large complex that served as the palace of the emperor of China for 500 years between 1420 to 1912. Glorifying the ancient Chinese palatial architecture, this sprawling complex contains within it 980 buildings. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is named so because it was forbidden to enter the complex without the permission of the emperor.

Today, the Forbidden City is the location of the Palace Museum. It's divided into two parts, the Outer Court in the south where the emperor exercised his authority over his subjects, and the Inner Court in the north which was his residence. The entire complex is full of stunning architecture and buildings and is one of China's top attractions. The collections of the Palace Museum are unbelievably extensive, with more than a million artifacts of bronze wear, ceramics, paintings, jade, and time wear.

3. Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is a collection of religious buildings, which was visited by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and today by thousands of visitors daily. The temple was open to the public in 1988., and the temple complex is enormous, even bigger than the Forbidden City. The Chinese emperors were regarded as sons of heaven and thus, performed duties on behalf of the gods. It is also the reason their own house couldn't be bigger than that of God. The features of the temple are quite stunning, especially inside the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperors prayed twice every year. The Circular Mound Altar is where sacrifices were performed, and is regarded as the temple's most important part.

4. Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square (the Square of Heavenly Peace) is the world's largest inner-city square. Designed to hold a million people, it was built to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Republic in 1958. Considered the center of communist China, the square's symbolic importance dates back to May 4th, 1919, when students demonstrated against the Chinese provisions of the Treaty of Versailles. Highlights of a visit include the Monument to the People's Heroes.

5. The Summer Palace

Located an easy 30-minute journey by car, bus, or taxi from the center of Beijing, the city's Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán) is a must-visit. Dating back to the 12th century and more than 700 acres in size, it's a picture-perfect setting, which certainly befits its royal status, boasting a large 700-year-old man-made lake and beautiful gardens.

6. Beijing National Stadium

Recognized the world over for its role in the spectacular Summer Olympics held in Beijing in 2008, the National Stadium (Guójia tiyùchang) – also affectionately nicknamed the Bird's Nest – is well worth a visit.

Built with a hefty price tag, this remarkable structure owes its unique design to the influences of traditional Chinese ceramics and has, since the Olympics, been used to host large cultural events and performances including opera, pop concerts, and football matches. In winter, it's turned into the world's largest manmade indoor ski slope.

7. Ming Tombs

A site chosen according to the Chinese Feng Shui houses the tombs of 13 Ming Emperors. The tombs are also a World Heritage Site. The Ming Tombs are located at the base of the Tianshou Mountains, approximately 50 km from Beijing. They were built as a memorial site by emperors of the Ming dynasty. However, these tombs only include those of the last 13 Ming emperors. The Hongwu Emperor had his burial made near the capital of Nanjing. The first Ming emperor to have his tomb built here was Yongle Emperor, in accordance with the rules of the Feng Shui. This valley was then used by the subsequent Ming emperors as their resting place.

8. Beihai Park

Also known as the Winter Palace, the Beihai Park is a public form that used to serve as of garden for the Imperial dynasty. It is located in the northwestern region of the city and was constructed during the 11th century. It tops the list when it comes to comparing the size of gardens around China.

9. The Lama Temple

This place is known by many names. Some call it the Yonghe Temple, others refer to it as the Yonghe Lamasery or even the Lama Temple. Situated at 12 Yonghegong Street, the buildings around this location are a piece of true artwork. One is really able to see a mix of Han Chinese and Tibetan authentic culture through these works. There are many such tourist attractions in Beijing, however, none matches the religious spirit of the Lama Temple.

10. Beijing Capital Museum And The National Centre For The Performing Arts

The Beijing Capital Museum and the National Centre for the Performing Arts is an excellent venue that houses classical concerts, ballets and opera shows that will truly blow your mind away. This place is filled with artists from all around the world and you will be happy to meet many art enthusiasts as well. Tick it off your list of places to visit in Beijing.

11. The Fayuan Temple

Fayuan Temple (Fayuán Sì) - also known as the Source of Law Temple - dates back to the year AD 645 and consists of several halls where many ancient stone inscriptions are kept, the oldest dating from the 7th century. The temple has witnessed many of Beijing's most important historic events, including serving as a prison for Emperor Huizong in the 12th century, a place of examination for the highest offices of state, as well as a botanical garden.

12. Beijing Zoo

Located in the northwest area of the city, the Beijing Zoo (Bei jing dòng wù yuán) covers an area of more than 220 acres and was established in 1906, making it one of the oldest zoos in China. Boasting an impressive collection of close to 15,000 animals from 1,000 species – the largest in the country – the zoo includes many rare native species such as South China tigers, snow leopards, golden snub-nosed monkeys, and pandas, along with some not so rare, such as the red-crowned crane and Pere David's deer.

Species from across the world are also well represented and include elephants, lions, and jaguars, all spread around grounds that closely resemble classical Chinese gardens, complete with dense woods, meadows, rivers, streams, and ponds, along with a number of pleasant gazebos and terraces. The zoo also has a well-stocked aquarium.

13. The Beijing Temple Of Confucius

The second-largest Confucian garden temple in China, the Beijing Temple of Confucius was built in 1302 and was used by Imperial officials to pay their respects to their Confucius legends. The structure was in use until 1911, following which it served as a collection of Art for the Capital Museum, which is another one of the greatest places to visit in Beijing.

14. Shichahai

It is a popular sightseeing spot, consisting of three beautiful lakes and the surrounding neighborhood. The Shichahai region is a wonderful recreational and scenic area in northwest Beijing. It consists of three lakes, the Houhai, the Qianhai, and the Xihai. The Houhai is the largest of these three. The lake area used to be a retreat for the people of the Ming Dynasty, with its scenic views and pleasant atmosphere, and hence, many of their mansions and residences can still be seen around the neighborhood.

15. Wangfujing Shopping Street

Shopping is an indispensable part of a tour of Beijing. With the unending array of newly-founded shopping malls, plazas, shopping centers, and shopping streets sprouting up in Beijing, shopping in Beijing has become the most convenient. Wangfujing Shopping Street is one of the most ancient and famous shopping streets in Beijing, where many large shopping malls are located, like the Beijing Department Store. Book stores, a classic photography studio, and Beijing snack shops are also on Wangfujing Shopping Street.

Besides this, there is much more to explore in Beijing!!!

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