Beijing: what to see in the Forbidden City, travel guide

summer palace beijing
summer palace beijing

What to see in Beijing, what to see and do in the capital of China, located between steppe, mountains and plains.

Travel Guide Beijing

Beijing in Chinese which means the northern capital, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China. It is located in the north-east of the country between the Yanshan Mountains and the Mongolian steppe to the north, the Gulf of Bohai in the east, the Taihang Mountains to the west and the beginning of the wide plain Chinese agricultural south. The city is a huge urban area that occupies a very large area.

With the arrival of a large mass of people from the countryside, there is a conspicuous phenomenon of urbanization that has necessitated the construction of new residential buildings and collective, so the city, with horizontal extension has turned and took a vertical dimension, dominated modern skyscrapers.

In ancient times the city had a square plan and was divided into nine sectors square, each of which corresponding to a ninth of the total area. According to the ancient Chinese thought this was the pattern of the ideal city, still partially recognizable in this fascinating city that preserves important architectural and artistic testimonies from distant civilizations.

What to see in Beijing

Forbidden City
It’s the Imperial Palace, an impressive complex of pavilions, courtyards, halls, places of worship and gardens dating back to the fifteenth century, which were
residence of the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It now houses an extensive collection of priceless artefacts, including paintings, ancient pottery and bronzes. The site is listed as a World Heritage Site.

Beihai Park
The Beihai is among the most beautiful and popular in Beijing, where groups of people, usually quite mature, meet to do outdoor activities. The lake of the same name it covers almost half of the surface, and is a place where it is customary to go skating in the winter or enjoy romantic boat trips in the summer. Through an ancient bridge you reach the ‘island of flowers Giada, where the highest point stands the Temple of the White Dagoba, an imposing structure shaped stupa which is accessed through a shady path and stairs of rock.

Drum Tower and Bell Tower
The Drum Tower, built in the thirteenth century to the geographical center of the ancient Mongolian capital of Dadu, was destroyed and restored several times over the following centuries. The drums of the tower dating back to the Ming Dynasty, were used to mark the time of day. The tower offers a great view of Beijing and the surrounding lanes. Near the Drum Tower stands the Bell Tower, built in the Ming, but the current structure dates back to the eighteenth century since the original was destroyed by fire.

Hutong alleys
The heart of old Beijing Hutong are the ancient and charming alleys survived the urban transformation of the city. A meta very charming, a glimpse of the old lifestyle of Beijing, to explore on foot or by bicycle, whose characteristic feature is the siheyuan, traditional courtyard houses surrounding walls. The most characteristic are the narrow streets around the drum and bell towers, Lake Houhai and Nanluoguxiang.

The Jingshan Park, originally imperial garden today a public park, covers an artificial hill located north of the Forbidden City, from the top you can admire a splendid view of the golden roofs of the imperial palaces.

Lama Temple
It’s the largest temple in Beijing, built in the late seventeenth century, and consists of a series of pavilions connected by courtyards. In the room farthest is the statue carved from a single sandalwood tree, 18 meters high, which is the Maitreya Buddha.

Summer Palace
In the north-western outskirts of the city, on the banks of Lake Kunming and dominated by Longevity Hill, is a beautiful complex of buildings and gardens used by the royal court as a summer residence. The site is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Park of the Temple of Heaven
It’s the largest imperial park in Beijing, surrounded by a wall in which there are four doors located at the points of the compass. Focal point of the park is the main building from which the park takes its name, the Temple of Heaven, highest expression of Ming. Originally this place was conceived as a large altar facing the sky and was then used by the emperor to perform ceremonial rites to ask the gods for a good harvest. The Temple of Heaven was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Tiananmen Square
It’s a huge square, where Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People’s Republic, and in 1989 became a symbol of the suppression of the student protests.