Beijing is heaven for sightseeing fans. The city boasts well-known historic sites as well as many temples that attract thousands of visitors every year. The nearby Great Wall of China is clearly a must-see. Below is a list of some of the city’s major tourist attractions.
The 400,000 square metres large area is a key historic centre of Beijing. It was here that the former Communist Party leader, Mao Zedong, declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China on 1st October, 1949. Today, thousands of visitors come here every year to see Mao’s remains in the mausoleum. Visit the Great Hall of the People that houses the country’s National People’s Congress and admire the 15th century Qianmen City Gate, which once divided Beijing’s ancient inner city and the suburban areas.
Built by Emperor Yongle in the early 15th century, the 720,000 square metres of Forbidden City was home to the imperial household. It was opened to the public in 1949. The well-preserved area boasts more than 800 buildings and 9,999 rooms. The Hall of Supreme Harmony, beautifully decorated with thousands of Dragons, was used to celebrate the Chinese emperor’s birthday. The Palace of Heavenly Purity served as the emperors’ living area and features several bedrooms.
The Summer Palace was once used by the imperial family as a retreat from the stress of Beijing city life. The grounds include a range of buildings and gardens including the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, as well as the stunning Fragrant Buddha Tower, which offers superb views of Kunming Lake.
This enormous park was built in the early 15th century, around the same time the Forbidden City was constructed. The park hosts several intriguing buildings. In the north of the park, a stone carved stairway leads up to the entrance of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests with its cylindrical blue-tiled roof and a beautifully decorated ceiling. It was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground in 1889 but was carefully reconstructed the following year. The Hall of Abstinence was used by emperors for fasting. In the south you will find the Round Altar—a three-tiered marble platform.
This well-known art centre is based inside a defunct, 1950s concrete factory. It features photographic exhibitions, video installations and other art themes.
This street is a must for antique-hunters: be it Chinese paintings, ancient books, calligraphy brushes or ink stones you are sure to find it on Liulichang. A favourite among calligraphers and scholars in the old days, the 750 metres long street was restored and expanded in the late 1980s.
Undoubtedly one of the world’s top tourism destinations, the Great Wall is a stunning monument stretching over 5,000 kilometres and is even visible from space. When in Beijing, the most convenient place to view the wall is from Badaling in Yanqing County, situated around 70 kilometres from the Chinese capital. Take one of the Tourist Buses leaving from Qianmen Station or Bus 919 departing from Deshengmen Station. Other sights open for tourists to explore the wall are Mutianyu, Huanghuacheng, Simatai and Jinshanling.
Originally built in 1694 as the residence of the future Yongzheng Emperor, this complex of beautifully designed buildings was transformed into a Tibetan Buddhist Temple in the mid-18th century. The Falun Dian, the temple’s teaching and assembly hall, features a large bronze statute of Tsongkapa, the founder of the Buddhist Yellow Hat sect.