No.90 | Beijing (Peking) | China | Asia

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The Forbidden City in Beijing

Magnificent Beijing

By: Nancy Eben

Beijing has a vast and rich history dating back to almost 3000 years. The city had a truly blossoming time under Kublai Khan in AD 1215. Imperial palaces were built, streets were broadened, temples constructed and canals completed. Ever since then the city has kept growing and its popularity has of today reached unimaginable scale and richness.

It remains China’s unrivaled political and cultural capital. Beijing is a national treasure of museums, government buildings, religious temples, gardens and parks. Here one can expect to find the presence of conflicting essence of modern China co-existing with an old culture. Where else can one possibly find a common sight of a three thousand year old temple sharing space with glassy shopping centers; fast food outlets and punk clubs competing with local teahouses and opera houses! The city is surrounded by a 30 foot high wall and 20 foot deep moat. One must visit the ‘Jing Shan Park’ for one of the most perfect scenic views of the city. The well known Tiananmen Square is worth a visit especially as it is the venue for both “staged events” as well as “unstaged events”.

Beijing has a plethora of attractions to keep a tourist busy. One structure often considered the quintessential Chinese temple is the ‘Temple of Heaven’ was completed during the Ming Dynasty. The unique aspect about this temple is the temple has incorporated some of the finest architectural talents found in the nation without using a nail anywhere. Beijing’s Summer Palace is wonderfully set within a park the dimensions of which are about the size of New York’s Central Park. The unique aspect of this park is that almost three quarters of its area is water. There are three lakes within the Summer Palace grounds from where one can view some fine expansive views across to gardens and man made hills. The Chinese have turned these grounds into a truly magnificent retreat. To view a glimpse into history one needs to visit the mansion of Prince Gong which has earned a reputation of today being China’s most beautiful and accurate descriptions of the Qing Dynasty. The city also boasts of a number of museums, some of which can be included in one’s itinerary while others can be visited if time permits. The biggest draws on a visit to the Beijing Zoo are the Panda exhibit and a superb salt water aquarium. The pilgrimage tourists will be glad they made it to Beijing for it gives them an opportunity to see the magnificent old temples. All the temples have striking features. The prominent ones are the Lama Temple which has a 55 foot Buddha carved from sandalwood block. The Confucius Temple is set in tranquil environs.

There is more to what Beijing has to offer than meets the eye! It is near difficult to really find a place where the living standards of so many people have risen so fast. The astounding transformation is there for the tourists and travelers to take advantage of. To view these entire attractions one can make advance room reservations in any Beijing China Hotel. The finest of Beijing Hotels include Kerry Center Hotel Beijing, Capital Hotel Beijing, Grand Hotel Beijing, Beijing International Hotel, and Crowne Plaza Hotel Beijing.

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