Located in East Asia on the western shore of the Pacific Ocean. The People's Republic of China (PRC) has a land area of about 9.6 million sq km. and is the third largest country in the World, next only to Russia and Canada. China now has 668 cities with 1.3 billion people at the end of 1998 about 22 percent of the World's total.
Since 1949, when Beijing was designated as the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC) with an urban population of 7.23 million. Beijing is not only the nation's political center but also one of the most fascinating places in China. As an ancient city, There is so much to see in Beijing we will find some of China's most stunning sights: The Tiananmen Gatetower - the symbol of Beijing as well as of China, Tiananmen Square - the largest city square in the World, The Former Imperial Palace (The Forbidden City) - the largest and best preserved ancient architectural complex of the World, The Great Wall at Badaling - one of the Wonders of the World, The Temple of Heaven - the largest of all existing temples in the World, where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshiped Heaven and prayed for good harvests, The Summer Palace - the largest imperial garden in the World, The Ming Tombs - the largest imperial tombs group in the World and Prince Gong's Residence. Of these, The Former Imperial Palace, The Great Wall at Badaling, The Summer Palace and the site of the discovery of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian have been listed as The World Cultural Heritages by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Physically at the city's center, symbolically it's the heart of China. This World's largest square is Mao's creation as is Chang'an Jie, the street leading onto it. Major rallies took place here during the Cultural Revolution when Mao wearing a Red Guar armband, reviewed parades of up to a million people.
In 1976 another million people jammed the square to pay their last respects. In 1989 PLA tanks and soldiers cut down pro-democracy demonstrators here. Today the square is a place to wander and fly kites or buy balloons for the kiddies.
The Former Imperial Palace (The Forbidden City)
The Forbidden City, so called because it was off limits to commoners for 500 years. It is the largest and best-preserved cluster of ancient buildings in China and was the imperial palace of the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. The Palace is so large (720,000 sq meters, 800 buildings, 9,000 rooms). To build such a large "City within the City", the Ming dynasty rulers used the whole country's manpower and material resources. A hundred thousand artisans and a million workmen were conscripted on the project and building materials were gathered from all parts of the country.
The Imperial Palace is the representative of ancient buildings in China. It is composed of the Outer Court and the Inner Court. Such exquisite layout fully shows the etiquette of the ancient times that "Court is in the front and living quarters are at the rear". So the Imperial Palace has the throne in the front court and the "Three Palaces and Six Yards" in the back.
With its perfect architectural art, large quantity of historic relics and embodiment of rich culture, the former Imperial Palace has become the symbol of ancient Chinese civilization.
The Summer Palace
One of Beijing's most visited sights, the Summer Palace is an immense park containing some Qing architecture. The site had long been a Royal garden and was considerably enlarged and embellished by Emperor Qianlong in the 18th Century. He deepened an expanded Kunming Lake with the help of 100,000 laborers and reputedly surveyed imperial navy drills from a hilltop perch. The Summer Palace was built in 1764. It has a total area of 290 hectares with a water surface of 220 hectares and is divided into three scenic areas: one of the Imperial Court, one in front the hill and one behind the hill.
The Great Wall
Also know to the Chinese as the 10,000 Li Wall, the Great Wall was a gigantic defense work during ancient China and stretches from Shanhai pass on the east coast to Jiayu pass into the Gobi Desert.
The 'Original' wall was begun 2000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 B.C.) by small warring states. After the unification of central China, Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered in 214 B.C. to link up those walls in the north to prevent the Huns from coming to the south. The construction continued over 10 years. The Great Wall undertook 18 major repairs and extensions over 200 years during the Ming Dynasty. It runs 6,700 km from Jiayuguan pass in Gansu province in the west to Shanhaiguan pass in Hebei province in the east over six provinces and Beijing and passes through high mountains, broad grasslands and immense deserts. The section of the Great Wall at Badaling in Beijing is very famous for tourist attraction. It is 8.5 meters high with breastwork of one meter high and 5.7 meters wide at the top.
Temple of Heaven
The perfection of Ming architecture, temple of heaven has come to symbolize Beijing and has remained as the largest complex of temples in China. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Emperor came to the temple of heaven to pray homage to heaven. The custom to worship heaven and the earth came into being during Zhou Dynasty and elaborated into a formal ritual during the Han and Tang Dynasties. The
temple of heaven has an area of 273 hectares with a layout in 2 squares
one inside the other. Two walls divide the ground into the outer and
inner parts. The outer wall is 6,416 meters long and the inner wall is
3,292 meters long. The temple of heaven is an outstanding representative
of Chinese traditional architecture for its clever design and
Xi'an, is the capital of Shaanxi Province in northwest China and one of six ancient capitals in China. The area has been the site of some of the oldest cities in the World's oldest civilization. Its history begins in the Bronze Age, three thousand year ago. This region of China is a treasure trove of palaces, ancient city walls, temples and tombs. The most remarkable of which are the World famous Terracotta Warriors in the Tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang - The 8th Wonder of the World!.
The Terracotta Army
This is a highlight of a trip to Xi'an. It was discovered by peasants sinking a well in 1974. Three rectangular vaults were found, built of earth with brick floors and timber supports. A fifth of the area has been excavated, revealing more than a thousand figures (out of an estimated 8,000) ranked in battle formation. Originally the troops carried real bows, swords, spears and crossbows more than ten thousand of which have been found. The metal weapons made of sophisticated alloys were still sharp when discovered.
Huaqing Hot Springs & Ruins of Imperial Baths in Huaqing Pool
It springs with mineral rich water emerging at a constant and agreeable 43? C, have been attracting people for nearly 2500 years including many emperors. Qin Shi Huang had a residence here as did the Han emperors but its present form, a complex of bathing houses and pools was created in the Tang dynasty. The first Tang emperor, Tai Zong had a palace here but it was under his successor, Xuan Zong who spent much of the winter here in the company of his favorite concubine, Yang Guifei, that the complex reached its height of popularity as and imperial pleasure resort.
The Banpo Museum is the excavated site of a Neolithic village, discovered in 1953, which was occupied between around 4500 BC and 3750 BC. It's the biggest and best-preserved site so far found of Yangshao culture and is named after the village near the eastern bend of the Yellow River where the first relics of this culture were found. A history written around 300 BC states that the Yangshao people "Know their mothers but not their fathers. Living together with the deer they tilled the earth and wove cloth and between themselves there was no strife"
Ancient City Wall
The wall was built in 1370 and recently restored. Forming a rectangle whose sides total 12 km. in length, they were originally built of rammed earth on the foundation of the walls of the Tang dynasty imperial city. The walls, which took their modern form in 1568 when they were faced with brick, are 12 m. high with a width of 18 m. at the base.
The Dacien Si, Big Wild Goose Pagoda
It is the largest temple in Xi'an, though when it was established in 647 it was much larger with nearly two thousand rooms and a resident population of more than three thousand monks.