Beijing in China

Wednesday, 11 September 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, UNESCO World Heritage

Central Business District © 郭友柏/cc-by-sa-4.0

Central Business District © 郭友柏/cc-by-sa-4.0

Beijing (“Northern Capital”) is the capital of the People’s Republic of China, the world’s third most populous city proper, and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of central government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China.

Beijing is an important world capital and global power city, and one of the world’s leading centers for politics, economy and business, finance, education, culture, innovation and technology, architecture, language, and diplomacy. A megacity, Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation’s political, cultural, and educational center. It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies and houses the largest number of Fortune Global 500 companies in the world, as well as the world’s four biggest financial institutions. It is also a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport has been the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic since 2010, and, as of 2016, the city’s subway network is the busiest and second longest in the world.

Combining both modern and traditional architecture, Beijing is one of the oldest cities in the world, with a rich history dating back three millennia. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for most of the past eight centuries, and was the largest city in the world by population for much of the second millennium A.D. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural center of an area as immense as China.” With mountains surrounding the inland city on three sides, in addition to the old inner and outer city walls, Beijing was strategically poised and developed to be the residence of the emperor and thus was the perfect location for the imperial capital. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, parks, gardens, tombs, walls and gates. It has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites—the Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Ming Tombs, Zhoukoudian, and parts of the Great Wall and the Grand Canal— all tourist locations. Siheyuans, the city’s traditional housing style, and hutongs, the narrow alleys between siheyuans, are major tourist attractions and are common in urban Beijing.

Many of Beijing’s 91 universities consistently rank among the best in China, such as the Peking University and Tsinghua University. Beijing CBD is a center for Beijing’s economic expansion, with the ongoing or recently completed construction of multiple skyscrapers. Beijing’s Zhongguancun area is known as China’s Silicon Valley and a center of innovation and technology entrepreneurship.

The Great Wall of China at Jinshanling © Severin.stalder/cc-by-sa-3.0 Zhoukoudian entrance © Mutt/cc-by-sa-4.0 Zhongguancun is a technology hub in Haidian District © Charlie fong Tianning Pagoda © BabelStone/cc-by-sa-3.0 Temple of Heaven © flickr.com - Philip Larson/cc-by-sa-2.0 Taikoo Li Sanlitun shopping arcade © Leeluv/cc-by-sa-3.0 Summer Palace © Zhangzhe0101/cc-by-sa-3.0 Skyline of Eastern Beijing, including Central Business District, Chaoyang Park and East 5th Ring Road © Picrazy2/cc-by-sa-4.0 Beijing Railway Station © Poeloq/cc-by-3.0 Ming tombs © Richardelainechambers/cc-by-sa-3.0 Jingshan Park © flickr.com - Sam Haldane/cc-by-sa-2.0 Houhai Lake and Drum Tower at Shichahai © Morio/cc-by-sa-4.0 Forbidden City © kallgan/cc-by-sa-3.0 Central Business District © 郭友柏/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Skyline of Eastern Beijing, including Central Business District, Chaoyang Park and East 5th Ring Road © Picrazy2/cc-by-sa-4.0
At the historical heart of Beijing lies the Forbidden City, the enormous palace compound that was the home of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties; the Forbidden City hosts the Palace Museum, which contains imperial collections of Chinese art. Surrounding the Forbidden City are several former imperial gardens, parks and scenic areas, notably Beihai, Shichahai, Zhongnanhai, Jingshan and Zhongshan. These places, particularly Beihai Park, are described as masterpieces of Chinese gardening art, and are tourist destinations of historical importance; in the modern era, Zhongnanhai has also been the political heart of various Chinese governments and regimes and is now the headquarters of the Communist Party of China and the State Council. From Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Square Massacre – France24, 28 May 2019: Remembering Tiananmen, China’s pro-democracy movement that ended in bloodshed, The New York Times, 3 June 2019: China Cannot Erase the Truth of Tiananmen, The Guardian, 3 June 2019: China continues to deny Tiananmen, but we won’t let the world forget, The Guardian, 4 June 2019: Tiananmen Square massacre marked with Hong Kong vigil, CNN, 4 June 2019: Tiananmen, Orwell and Trump), right across from the Forbidden City, there are several notable sites, such as the Tiananmen, Qianmen, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, the Monument to the People’s Heroes, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. The Summer Palace and the Old Summer Palace both lie at the western part of the city; the former, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains a comprehensive collection of imperial gardens and palaces that served as the summer retreats for the Qing imperial family.

Among the best known religious sites in the city is the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), located in southeastern Beijing, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties made visits for annual ceremonies of prayers to Heaven for good harvest. In the north of the city is the Temple of Earth (Ditan), while the Temple of the Sun (Ritan) and the Temple of the Moon (Yuetan) lie in the eastern and western urban areas respectively. Other well-known temple sites include the Dongyue Temple, Tanzhe Temple, Miaoying Temple, White Cloud Temple, Yonghe Temple, Fayuan Temple, Wanshou Temple and Big Bell Temple. The city also has its own Confucius Temple, and a Guozijian or Imperial Academy. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built in 1605, is the oldest Catholic church in Beijing. The Niujie Mosque is the oldest mosque in Beijing, with a history stretching back over a thousand years.

Beijing contains several well-preserved pagodas and stone pagodas, such as the towering Pagoda of Tianning Temple, which was built during the Liao dynasty from 1100 to 1120, and the Pagoda of Cishou Temple, which was built in 1576 during the Ming dynasty. Historically noteworthy stone bridges include the 12th-century Lugou Bridge, the 17th-century Baliqiao bridge, and the 18th-century Jade Belt Bridge. The Beijing Ancient Observatory displays pre-telescopic spheres dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Fragrant Hills (Xiangshan) is a public park that consists of natural landscaped areas as well as traditional and cultural relics. The Beijing Botanical Garden exhibits over 6,000 species of plants, including a variety of trees, bushes and flowers, and an extensive peony garden. The Taoranting, Longtan, Chaoyang, Haidian, Milu Yuan and Zizhu Yuan parks are some of the notable recreational parks in the city. The Beijing Zoo is a center of zoological research that also contains rare animals from various continents, including the Chinese giant panda.

There are 144 museums and galleries (as of June 2008) in the city. In addition to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China, other major museums include the National Art Museum of China, the Capital Museum, the Beijing Art Museum, the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution, the Geological Museum of China, the Beijing Museum of Natural History and the Paleozoological Museum of China.

Located at the outskirts of urban Beijing, but within its municipality are the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming dynasty, the lavish and elaborate burial sites of thirteen Ming emperors, which have been designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The archaeological Peking Man site at Zhoukoudian is another World Heritage Site within the municipality, containing a wealth of discoveries, among them one of the first specimens of Homo erectus and an assemblage of bones of the gigantic hyena Pachycrocuta brevirostris. There are several sections of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Great Wall of China, most notably Badaling, Jinshanling, Simatai and Mutianyu. In 2012 Beijing was named as City of Design and became part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (Major National Historical and Cultural Sites (Beijing) and List of Beijing landmarks).

Read more on Beijing International, China.org.cn – Beijing, TravelChinaGuide.com – Beijing, LonelyPlanet.com – Beijing, Beijing cuisine, Wikitravel Beijing, Wikivoyage Beijing and Wikipedia Beijing (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.
















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