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Discover Beijing  - Sightseeing

 
Sightseeing
Beijing is a famous oriental city with profound history and splendid culture. You will be captivated by the magnificent Forbidden City, the scenic Summer Palace, the majestic Great Wall and the artistic Yuanmingyuan Garden. The tours to these scenic historical sites after attending meetings and exhibitions will surely leave you many fond memories of this trip.

Tian An Men Square

Located at the center of Beijing City is Tiananmen Square, where you can visit Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the Peoples Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall and see the national flag raising ceremony. Thousands of people come to the Square every day. It is the must place to visit in Beijing City.

At the north end of the Square is Tiananmen Tower. Initially built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D.- 1644 A.D.), the Square was the front door of the Forbidden City. The most important use of it in the past was to declare in a big ceremony to the common people who became the emperor and who became the empress. Until 1911 when the last feudal kingdom was over, no one could enter the Tower except for the royal family and aristocrats.

The granite Monument to the Peoples Heroes is just at the center of the Tiananmen Square. Built in 1952, it is the largest monument in Chinas history.

West of the Square is the Great Hall of the People. This building, erected in 1959, is the site of the China National Peoples Congress meetings and provides an impressive site for other political and diplomatic activities.Twelve marble posts are infront of the Hall which has three parts--the Central Hall, the Great Auditorium and a Banqueting Hall.The floor of the Central Hall is paved with marble and crystal lamps hang from the ceiling. The Great Auditorium behind the Central Hall seats 10,000. The Banqueting Hall is a huge hall with 5,000 seats.

Chairman Mao Zedong is the founder of new China. Mao Zedong Memorial Hall is at the south side of the Square. This Hall is divided into three halls and our dear Chairman Maos body lies in a crystal coffin in one of the halls surrounded by fresh bouquets of various famous flowers and grasses.

The Forbidden City

Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, was the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Now known as the Palace Museum, it is to the north of Tiananmen Square. Rectangular in shape, it is the worlds largest palace complex and covers 74 hectares. Surrounded by a six meter deep moat and a ten meter high wall are 9,999 buildings. There are unique and delicately structured towers on each of the four corners of the curtain wall. These afford views over both the palace and the city outside.

The Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The southern section, or the Outer Court was where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation. The northern section, or the Inner Court was where he lived with his royal family. Until 1924 when the last emperor of China was driven from the Inner Court, fourteen emperors of the Ming dynasty and ten emperors of the Qing dynasty had reigned here. Having been the imperial palace for some five centuries, it houses numerous rare treasures and curiosities. Listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987, the Forbidden Cityis now one of the most popular tourist attractions world-wide.

Construction of the palace complex began in 1407 in the Ming dynasty. It was completed fourteen years later in 1420.

Since yellow is the symbol of the royal family, it is the dominant color in the Forbidden City. Roofs are built with yellow glazed tiles; decorations in the palace are painted yellow; even the bricks on the ground are made yellow by a special process.

Nowadays, the Forbidden City is open to tourists from home and abroad. Splendid painted decoration on these royal architectural wonders, the grand and deluxe halls, with their surprisingly magnificent treasures will certainly satisfy modern civilians.
 

The Great Wall

The Great Wall is a symbol of Chinese civilization, and one of the wonders that the Chinese people have created. Badaling Great Wall, the most representative part, was promoted as a key national cultural relic, protected under the approval of the State Council in 1961. In 1988, it was enlisted in the World Cultural Heritage Directory by UNESCO. July 7, 2007 has once again witnessed the worldwide reputation that the Great Wall gained: it was listed among the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Badaling Great Wall is situated in Yanqing County, over 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Beijing. It is the most well-preserved section of the Great Wall, built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). This section with an average altitude of over 1,000 meters (3,282 feet) is the outpost of the Juyongguan Pass. The mountain slope is very steep and the roads are tortuous. These features made it a military stronghold. Badaling Great Wall is like a strong dragon winding its way along the mountain ranges.

Summer Palace

Situated in the western outskirts of Beijing, the Summer Palace is 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) from central Beijing. Containing examples of the ancient arts, it also has graceful landscapes and magnificent constructions. Having the largest royal park and being well preserved, the Summer Palace is the archetypal Chinese garden, and is ranked amongst the most noted and classical gardens of the world. In 1998, it was listed as one of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), during the succeeding reign of feudal emperors; it was extended continuously. By the time of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it had become a luxurious royal garden providing royal families with rest and entertainment. Like most of the gardens of Beijing, it could not elude the rampages of the Anglo-French allied force and was destroyed by fire. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled navy funds to reconstruct it for her own benefit, changing its name to Summer Palace (Yiheyuan). She spent most of her later years there, dealing with state affairs and entertaining. In 1900, it suffered again, being ransacked by the Eight-Power Allied Force. After the success of the 1911 Revolution, it was opened to the public.

Composed mainly of Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, The Summer Palace occupies an area of 294 hectares (726.5 acres), three quarters of which is water. Guided by nature, artists designed the gardens exquisitely so that visitors would see marvelous views and be amazed by perfect examples of refined craftwork using the finest materials.
 
Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves The Son of Heaven ,they dared not build their own dwelling,Forbidden City bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of The heaven is round and the earth is square.

The main buildings lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis line of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are The Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest from south to north. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo Stones and Echo Wall.Almost all of the buildings are connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge (Danbiqiao) or called Sacred Way.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is a big palace with round roof and three layers of eaves. Inside the Hall are 28 huge posts. The four posts along the inner circle represent four seasons-spring, summer, autumn and winter; the 12 posts along the middle circle represent the 12 months; and 12 posts along the outer circle represent 12 time divisions.

Another interesting and famous place for you to visit is called Echo Wall owning special feature. The wall encloses the Imperial Vault of Heaven. If you and your friend stand at the east and the west roots of the wall respectively and you whisper a word, then your friend will hear clearly what you say. Isnt it interesting? The phenomenon utilizes the theory of sound wave.
 
The Ming Tombs

50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City lies the Ming Tombs - the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors. Because of its long history, palatial and integrated architecture, the site has a high cultural and historic value. The layout and arrangement of all thirteen mausoleums are very similar but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.

Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public. Changling, the chief of the Ming Tombs, is the largest in scale and is completely preserved.

Unlike Changling, Dingling is under ground and about 27 meters deep. It is the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun, the thirteenth emperor who occupied the throne the longest during the Ming Dynasty, and his two empresses. The main features are the Stone Bridge, Soul Tower, Baocheng and the Underground Place, which was unearthed between 1956 and 1958. The entire palace is made of stone. The Soul Tower is symbolic of the whole of Dingling and it forms the entrance to the underground chambers. The yellow glazed tiles; eaves, archway, rafters and columns are all sculptured from stone, and colorfully painted. The entire construction is stable and beautiful!
 
Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park, a beautiful royal landscape garden, is situated in the center of Beijing City. Covering an area of 230,000 square meters (about 57 acres), the park stands on the central point of the south-north axis of Beijing City and faces the north gate of the Forbidden City.

Jingshan Park is found on Jingshan Hill, which was originally named Wansui Hill (Long Live Hill), Zhen Hill or Meishan Hill (Coal Hill). The mid summit of Jingshan is the highest point in Beijing. Looking from the peak, the visitor is able to get a full and clear view of the Forbidden City.

During the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Jingshan Hill served as an imperial garden and was properly laid out under the Ming Dynasty when numerous fruit trees were planted as well as many palaces and pavilions built for the emperor to make sacrifices to his ancestors. As a result, the royal families always enjoyed amusements here, like hunting in the hills.

The Wanchun Pavilion (Ten Thousand Spring Pavilion) sits at the hills central point as well as being at the highest point in Beijing. It is a perfect place to appreciate the full view of Beijing City. From this pavilion, visitors are able to see the resplendent and magnificent Forbidden City in the south, the dignified Bell and Drum Towers in the north, as well as the White Dagoba in the west.
 
Beihai Park

With the Forbidden City and Jingshan Park to its east, Zhong Nan Hai (Central and South Seas) to its south, Beihai (North Sea) Park is one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in China located in the center of Beijing. This ancient garden, with over 1,000 years history, is not only a classic combination of the grandiosity of the northern gardens and the refinement of the southern gardens in China, but also a perfect integration of magnificent imperial palaces and solemn religious constructions.

Beihai Park covers an area of about 0.71 sq km (about 0.27 sq miles), more than half of which is taken up by the lake. In the middle of the lake and on the central axis of the whole park lies the Jade Flowery Islet, topped by the imposing White Dagoba which is the landmark of Beihai Park. When touring Beihai Park, you should not miss White Dagoba, Hao Pu Creek (Haopujian) Garden, Quiet Heart (Jingxin) Studio, Nine-Dragon Screen and Circular City.

Lama Temple


At the northeast corner of Beijing City the traveler will find an elegant and ancient Lama Temple known as the Yonghe Lamasery, which is the largest and most perfectly preserved lamasery in present day China.

Built initially in 1694 during the Qing Dynasty, this building was the residence of Emperor Yongzheng when he was just a prince. However, in 1744 the Qing Dynasty formally changed the status of the dwelling to that of a lamasery, and so Lama Temple became the national centre of Lama administration. Lama Temple has the biggest wood-carving Buddha in the world.

Shichahai Area


Shichahai is a famous scenic area that includes three lakes (Qian Hai, meaning Front Sea; Hou Hai, meaning Back Sea and Xi Hai, meaning Western Sea), surrounding places of historic interest and scenic beauty, and remnants of old-style Beijing residences, Hutong and Courtyard. It is located in the northwest part of Beijing, and covers a large area of 146.7 hectares (about 363 acres).

The history of Shichahai can be traced to as far back as the Jin Dynasty (1115 - 1234). During the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368), it was the terminal point of the Great Canal, which was a main reason for its prosperity. In the period of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), when the channels ceased to be as smooth as they used to be, Shichahai changed from a bustling hub to a place of leisure where people could stroll around to admire the vast scenery or enjoy the cool shade under williow trees.

The greatest point of interest in Shichahai today is its residences, Hutong and Courtyard. In and around Beijing City, Shichahai is one of the best places to view well-preserved Hutongs and courtyards. Visiting Hutongs by pedicab has become a popular activity for visitors from China and abroad. The most famous Hutong is Jin Si Tao, which actually includes 18 hutongs and keeps the original layout of Hutong Area.

Hutong

A hutong is an ancient city alley or lane typical in Beijing, where hutongs run into the several thousand. Surrounding the Forbidden City, many were built during the Yuan (1206-1341), Ming (1368-1628) and Qing(1644-1908) dynasties. The main buildings in the hutong were almost all quadrangles--a building complex formed by four houses around a quadrangular courtyard. A new pastime roamed through Beijings old and narrow streets-- hutongs, by old-fashioned Pedicab to visit siheyuan, the old quadrangles, and learn about the daily life of ordinary Beijing citizens-- has attracted more and more overseas visitors.



Liulichang Cultural Street

If you have a favor with curios, calligraphy, painting or other artwork in China, Liulichang Street of Chinese Culture is a must when you travel in Beijing.

Liulichang Street of Chinese Culture is located south of the Peace Gate of Xuanwu District in Beijing. During the time of Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), a colored glaze factory (Liuli Chang in Chinese) was in production there, which made glazed tiles for the palaces, temples and residences of the officials, hence the name. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), many businessmen and venders began to sell curios and old books there. Over years the factory was gradually replaced by the bazaar of calligraphy, painting, copybook, artifacts and the four treasures of the study. i.e. writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper. Later the street fell into absence of lively atmosphere for a time until the rebuild in the year 1982 that revived it. Now shops and houses of gray tiles and bricks together with sculptures and colored image are lined orderly by the street, making it taste more classical.

National Centre for the Performing Arts

Located in central Beijing, adjacent to the Great Hall of the People and Tiananmen Square, the Centre is the new Chinese locus for the performing arts and an important foundation for the creative cultural scene in China. Designed by renowned French architect Paul Andreu, The National Centre for the Performing Arts, which features an opera house, concert hall, and two theaters, is currently the largest performing arts center in the world -- twice as big as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. Its spectacular half-dome glass structure is one of the most talked-about architectural projects of the last several years thanks to Andreus innovative design, which reflects the modernity of the new China and excitement about its future. To learn more about the National Centre for the Performing Arts, please visit its official website: www.nationalgrandtheater.com.

The Capital Museum


The Capital Museum is a large modernized comprehensive museum that reflects the past and present of Beijing in terms of history, construction, folk customs, and culture. It was open to public on May 18, 2006.

The museum, with 5 floors above the ground and 2 underground, covers an area of 24,800 square meters. The building itself is a work of art, combining classical and modern aesthetic concepts.
The museum has a rich collection of cultural relics. Most of the exhibits are relics unearthed in Beijing and its environs. By adopting the latest findings in the history, relics, archeology of Beijing and related fields and learning from successes of museums at home and abroad, it has created a modernized exhibition system with distinctive qualities of Beijing. It is divided into three parts–basic exhibits, theme exhibition, and temporary exhibition.

Olympic Venues

Bird Nest (China National Stadium) 









Location: Olympic Green
Total land surface: 258,000 sq m;
Seats: 91,000
Competitions: Athletics, Football;
Post-Games use: The Stadium is to stage sports events at national and international levels, as well as cultural and entertaining activities.

Water Cube (The National Aquatics Centre)




Location: Olympic Green
Total land surface: 65,000-80,000 sq m
Seats: 6,000 permanent and 11,000 temporary;
Competitions: Swimming, Diving, Synchronized Swimming

National Indoor Stadium



Location: Olympic Green
Total Land Surface: 80,900 sq m
Competitions: Artistic Gymnastics, Trampolines, and Handball;
Post-Game use: The venue, one of the best sports facilities in Beijing, can be used for sports competition, cultural and entertaining purposes, and will serve as a multi-functional exercise centre for local residents.


For further information on sightseeing, food, entertainment and shopping in Beijing, please visit the official website of the Beijing Tourism Administration.

URL: http://english.visitbeijing.com.cn/scenic_spots/


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