The close proximity of Beijing’s top attractions makes touring this massive city very manageable. First, your impulse will be to head to Tiananmen Square, which hosts the Forbidden City, the National Museum of China, and several other monuments. From there, you can retreat from the busy plaza to the lush green spaces of Beihai Park or the Summer Palace. You’ll also want to pay a visit to the Dashanzi Art District and Nanluoguxiang neighborhood for some urban adventures, like souvenir-hunting and gallery-hopping. When you’ve exhausted Beijing’s offerings, make the pilgrimage to the Great Wall.
Tian’anmen Rostrum Tian’anmen( the Gate of Heavenly Peace), is located in the center of Beijing. It was first built in 1417 and named Chengtianmen( the Gate of Heavenly Succession). At the end of the Ming Dynasty, it was seriously damaged by war. When it was rebuilt under the Qing in 1651, it was renamed Tian’anmen, and served as the main entrance to the Imperial City, the administrative and residential quarters for court officials and retainers. The southern sections of the Imperial City wall still stand on both sides of the Gate. The tower at the top of the gate is nine-room wide and five –room deep. According to the Book of Changes, the two numbers nine and five, when combined, symbolize the supreme status of a sovereign. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Tian’anmen was the place where state ceremonies took place. The most important one of them was the issuing of imperial edicts, which followed these steps: 1) The Minister of Rites would receive the edict in Taihedian( Hall of Supreme Harmony), where the Emperor was holding his court. The minister would then carry the decree on a yunpan( tray of cloud), and withdraw from the hall via Taihemen( Gate of supreme Harmony) 2) The Minister would put the tray in a miniature longting( dragon pavilion). Beneath a yellow umbrella and carry it via Wumen( Meridian Gate), to Tian’anmen Gate tower. 3) A courtier would be invested to proclaim the edict. The civil and military officials lining both sides of the gateway beneath the tower would prostrate themselves in the direction of the emperor in waiting for the decree to the proclaimed. 4) The courtier would then put the edict in a phoenix-shaped wooden box and lower it from the tower by means of a silk cord. The document would finally be carried in a similar tray of cloud under a yellow umbrella to the Ministry of Rites. 5) The edict, copied on yellow paper, would be made known to the whole country. Such a process was historically recorded as ― Imperial Edict Issued by Golden Phoenix‖. During the Ming and Qing dynasties Tian’anmen was the most important passage. It was this gate that the Emperor and his retinue would go through on their way to the altars for ritual and religious activities. On the Westside of Tian’anmen stands ZhongshanPark( Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Park), and on the east side, the Working People’s Cultural Palave. The Park was formerly called Shejitan( Altar of Land and Grain), built in 1420 for offering sacrificial items to the God of Land. It was opened to the public as a park in 1914 and its name was changed in 1928 to the present one in memory of the great pioneer of the Chinese Democratic Revolution. The Working People’s Cultural Palace used to be Taimiao( the Supreme Ancestral Temple), where tablets of the deceased dynastic rulers were kept.
The stream in front of Tian’anmen is called Waijinshuihe( Outer Golden River),with seven marble bridges spanning over it . Of these seven bridges,historical records say the middle one was for the exclusive use of the emperor and was accordingly called Yuluqiao( Imperial Bridge). The bridges flanking it on either side were meant for the members of the royal family and were therefore called Wanggongqiao( Royal’s Bridges). Farther away on each side of the two were bridges for officials ranking above the third order and were named Pinjiqiao( ministerial Bridges). The remaining two bridges were for the use by the retinue below the third order and wre called Gongshengqiao( common Bridges). They anr the one in front of the Supreme Ancestral Temple to the east and the one in front of the Altar of land and Grain to the west. The two stone lions by the Gate of Tian’anmen, one on each side were meant as sentries. They gaze toward the middle axis, guarding the emperor’s walkway. In front of the gate stands a pair of marble columns called Huabiao. They are elaborately cut in bas-relief following the pattern of a legendary dragon. Behind the gate stands another pair of similar columns. The story of Huabiao may be traced to a couple of sources. One of the versions accredits its invention to one of the Chinese sage kings named Yao, who was said to have set up a wooden pillar in order to allow the ordinary people to expose evil-doers, hence it was originally called a slander pillar. Later it ws reduced to a signpost, and now it serves as an ornament. The beast sitting on the top of the column is called‖ hou‖, a legendary animal, which is said to have been a watcher of an emperor’s behaviour. He was doing such duties as warning the emperor against staying too long outside the palace or indulging in pleasure and urging him to go to the people for their complaints or return in due time. Therefore, the two pairs of beasts were given the names‖ Wangjunhui‖( Expecting the emperor’s coming back) and ― wangjunchu‖( Expecting the emperor’s going out) respectinvely. In the old days, Tian’anmen, as a part of the Imperial City, was meant for important occasions. The two rows of chaofang( antechamber), on the sides behind the main gate, wre reserved for civil and military members of the government waiting for imperial audience and in front of the gate, were offices of imperial administration.
On October 1, 1949, chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed on Tian’anmen Rostrum the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Since then Tian’anmen has been the symbol of New Chine\a. Chairman Mao’s portrait is hung above the central entrance, flanked by two slogans:‖ Long Live the Great Unity of the Peoples of the World‖. Today , the splendour of Tian’anmen attracts million of visitors from all over the world. The Rostrum on its top was opened in 1988 to the public for the first time in its history. It offers a panoramic view of the Square and the city proper. Tian’anmen Square Situated due south of Tian’anmen, the Square has an area of 44 hectares( 109 acres) that can accommodate as many as one million people for public gatherings. It has witnessed may historical events in China’s modern history and is a place for celebrations on such festive days as international Labour Day on May 1st and national Day on October 1st. Around the Square are several famous buildings:
(1). The Great Hall of the People
This is one of the largest congressional buildings in the world. Built in 1959, the hall consists of three parts: a 10,000-seat auditorium in the center, a banquet hall in the north wing facing Chang’an Street, with a seating capacity of 5,000, and offices for the Standing Committee of the National Peoples’ Congress of China in the south. In addition, thirty-four reception chambers are named after various provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly unde the Central Government, plus Hong Kong and Macao. Each is different from the other in decoration and furnishings to stress their local features.
(2) .The Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution
These two museums were also built in 1959. the museum of Chinese History houses a permanent exhibition in four parts, covering the entire process of Chinese history spanning from 1.7 million years ago to 1919: 1) The Primitive Society( 1.7 million years ago to the 21st century BC); 2) The Slave Society(21st century BC to 476 BC.); 3) The Feudal Society(475 BC. To 1840 AD.); 4) The Semi-Colonial and Semi- Fedual Society(1840 to 1919.) The Museum of the Chinese Revolution covers the period from 1919 to 1949.
(3). The Monument to the People’s Heroes
the monument was built in memory of thousands of martyrs who died for the revolutionary cause of the Chinese people. Its construction began on August 1, 1952 and was not completed until 1958. in the form of an obelisk, the Monument as made of more than 17,000 pieces of tranite and white marble. The purple piece inlaid in the front of the Monument was brought from Qingdao, Shandong Province. It is 38 meters(124ft 8 in) high, the loftiest of its kind ever seen in the country. Not only is it an historic memorial for immortal heroes, but also it is an artistic work of excellent architectural value. On the front side of the Monument is an engraved inscription in Chinese characters written by Chairman Mao Zedong, which reads‖ Eternal Glory to the People’s Heroes!‖. On the back of the Monument is an article written by Chairman Mao, but in Chinese calligraphy by the late Premier Zhou Enlai.
At the top of the Monument are eight gigantic carved wreathes of such flowers as peony, lotus and chrysanthemum, symbolizing nobility, purity, and fortitude. At the base of the monument are eight marble reliefs depicting the Chinese historic events since 1840. They are: 1) The Burning of Opium in 1840: 2) The uprising of 1851 in Jintian, Guangxi; 3) The Revolution of 1911; 4) The May Fourth Movement of 1919; 5) The May 30th Movement of 1925; 6) The Uprising of 1927 in Nanchang, Jiangxi; 7) The War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression from 1937 to 1945; 8) The Victorious Crossing over the Yangtze River by the Peoples’s Liberation Army in 1949. This relief is flanked by two smaller ones—― Supplying the Front‖ and ― Greeting the P.L.A.‖.
(4). Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum
Chairman Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Pepublic of China, passed away on Sepember 9, 1976. In commemoration of this great man, a mausoleum began to be constructed in November 1976, and was completes in August the following year. The Mausoleum was officially opened on September 9, 1977. The mausoleum is surrounded by four groups of sculpture. East of the northern entrance is the sculpture depicting the period of the New Democratic Revolution( 1919-1949), and west of it is the one signifying the great achievements of the Chinese people during the period of slcialist revolution and construction since 1949. The sculptures in front of the southern gate are figures of workers, peasants soldiers, intellectuals, technicians and children. Inside the Mausoleum are three main sections: A white marble statue of Chairman Mao is mounted on a platform in the front lobby. On the wall behind the statue is a 24-metre-long( 79-foot-long) tapestry, a fine needlepoint work with beautiful landscapes of the country. In the main hall there is a crystal coffin, in which Chairman Mao’s body lies stately with the Communist Party’s flag covering over him. On the wall of the southern lobby, a poem by Chairman Mao and in his own calligraphy is inscribed in gold inlay. It expresses his full great expectations for the country. Tian’ anmen Square has now completed its renovation after eight months’ hard work to welcome the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic in 1999.
2.The Great wall of China
The Great wall The Great Wall is the symbol of China’s ancient civilization and one of the famous, grand and splendid ancient construction wonders in the world. In 1987, it was listed as the world culture heritage by the UNESCO. For many centuries, the Great Wall served as a military gigantic defensive project to keep out the invading troops of the northern nomadic tribes. The construction of the Great Wall first began in the seventh century BC. That period of time was called the Spring and Autumn Warring States Period. The first wall that appeared in China was built by Kingdom Qi and Chu. They built a high wall, which was called “square wall” surrounding their own territories that could make the invading enemy feel terrified by the high wall, so it was known as the Qi and Chu Great Wall. During the Warring States Period there were seven small kingdoms. In order to defend themselves against the neighboring states, all the kingdoms had high walls built around their own territories. The three states of Qin, Zhao, and Yan had the high walls built along their northern frontiers as defensive projects. There high walls were the primitive type of the present day Great Wall and laid the foundation of the present Great Wall. In Chinese history, large-scale construction of the Great Wall was concentrated in three dynasties: Qin, Han, and Ming dynasties. In 221 BC, after Qin Shihuang defeated the other six kingdoms and unified China, he gave himself the title: the First Emperor of Qin Dynasty, Emperor Qin Shihuang. Then he decided to link up all the separated high walls built by different kingdoms into the Great Wall. Especially the high walls in the northern part of China built by Qin, Zhao and Yan were linked up and extended into a Great Wall to ward off harassment by the Huns and for the use of further defensive project. It took 10 years to finish and involved on million people, about one fifth of China’s population at that time. The Qin Great Wall started from Lintao in Gansu province in the west and ended in Liaodong, Liaoning province in the east. It covered a distance of 7000 kilometers, so it was called the “Ten-thousand Li Great Wall”. Li is Chinese unit of distance, about 500 meters in one Li. Large-scale construction of the Great Wall was continuously carried out during the reign of emperor Wu Di in the Han dynasty. Apart from maintaining and utilizing the Qin Great Wall, they built an Outer Great Wall about 500 kilometers to the north of the Qin Great Wall. They also had the Great Wall extended towards the west for another 3000 kilometers long up to the Lop Nur Lake in today’s Xinjia Uygur Autonomous Region. The Han Great Wall started from Liaodong in the east and ended at the foot of the Tianshan Mountain in Xinjiang, with a total, length of 10,000 kilometers. It was the longest Great Wall in the Chinese history.
The last large-scale construction project on the Great Wall was carried out in the Ming dynasty. In 1368, right after Zhu Yuanzhang established the Ming dynasty he started the reconstruction of the Great Wall in order to ward off the harassment of the Mongol troops and the newly raised ethnic tribe of “Nu Zhen” in the northeast. The whole project took more than 200 years to complete. After that, the total length of the Ming Great Wall was more than 6000 kilometers from Yalu River in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west. Badaling Great Wall is about 75 kilometers northwest of Beijing, and it’s the best-preserved part of the Great Wall. Bada in English means convenient transportation to all directions. From here people can go to all directions, hence the name of Badaling. Badaling Pass is very important in the defense of Beijing. And an old Chinese saying can be the best description,” if one man guards the pass, then thousand can’t get through”. The Great Wall at Badaling averages 7.8 meters high, 6.5 meters wide at its base, and 5.8 meters on the top, wide enough for five horses or ten soldiers waking abreast on the wall. Here the Badaling section is with single side battlements while the parapet is on the other side. The outer side of the wall is topped with crenellated battlements, which is about 2 meters high and with a square hole below for shooting arrows and also for keeping a watch over the enemy, while the parapet about 1 meter high is on the inner side. At the commanding points, beacon towers were built on both sides of the wall. They were used for making signals of warning messages when enemy was sighted. Fires were set up on the top of the beacon towers at night, and smoke in the day time when there were invading enemies. And the number of the fire and smoke signals could signify the number of invading enemies. And watch-towers were built on the Great Wall for watching over the invading enemy, and they are usually of two stories. It was also the place to store weapons and for the soldiers to live.
The Summer Palace, dominated mainly by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, covers an area of 2.9 square kilometers, three quarters of which is under water. Its 70,000 square meters of building space features a variety of palaces, gardens and other ancient-style architectural structures. Well known for its large and priceless collection of cultural relics, it was among the first group of historical and cultural heritage sites in China to be placed under special state protection. The Summer Palace, originally named Qingyi Yuan or the Garden of Clear Ripples, was first constructed in 1750. It was razed to the ground by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860. The Government of the Qing Dynasty started to rebuild it in 1886 with funds that it had misappropriated from the Imperial Navy and other sources. Renamed two years later as Yihe Yuan or the Garden of Health and Harmony, it was supposed to serve as a summer resort for the Empress Dowager Cixi. Known also as the Summer Palace, it was ravaged by the Allied Forces of the Eight Powers that invaded China in 1900. The damage was repaired in 1902. Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Summer Palace has undergone several major renovations. Its major attractions such as the Four Great Regions, Suzhou Street, the Pavilion of Bright Scenery, the Hall of Serenity, the Wenchang Galleries and the Plowing and Weaving Scenery Area have been successively restored. The Summer Palace is a monument to classical Chinese architecture, in terms of both garden design and construction. Borrowing scenes from surrounding landscapes, it radiates not only the grandeur of an imperial garden but also the beauty of nature in a seamless combination that best illustrates the guiding principle of traditional Chinese garden design: “The works of men should match the works of Heaven”. In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List with the following comments: 1) The Summer Palace in Beijing is an outstanding expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in a harmonious whole; 2) The Summer Palace epitomizes the philosophy and practice of Chinese garden design, which played a key role in the development of this cultural form throughout the east; 3) The imperial Chinese garden, illustrated by the Summer Palace, is a potent symbol of one of the major world civilizations.
4.Forbidden City(Imperial Palace)
the palace museum; also know as the Purple Forbidden City. It is the largest and most well reserved imperial residence in China today. Under Ming Emperor Yongle, construction began in 1406. It took 14years to build the Forbidden City. The first ruler who actually lived here was Ming Emperor Zhudi. For five centuries thereafter, it continued to be the residence of23 successive emperors until 1911 when Qing Emperor Puyi was forced to abdicate the throne .In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized the Forbidden City was a world cultural legacy.
It is believed that the Palace Museum, or Zi Jin Cheng (Purple Forbidden City), got its name from astronomy folklore, The ancient astronomers divided the constellations into groups and centered them around the Ziwei Yuan(North Star). The constellation containing the North Star was called the Constellation of Heavenly God and star itself was called the purple palace. Because the emperor was supposedly the son of the heavenly gods, his central and dominant position would be further highlighted the use of the word purple in the name of his residence. In folklore, the term ‖an eastern purple cloud is drifting‖ became a metaphor for auspicious events after a purple cloud was seen drifting eastward immediately before the arrival of an ancient philosopher, LaoZi, to the Hanghu Pass. Here, purple is associated with auspicious developments. The word jin (forbidden) is self-explanatory as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off-explanatory as the imperial palace was heavily guarded and off-limits to ordinary people.
The red and yellow used on the palace walls and roofs are also symbolic. Red represents Happiness, good fortune and wealth. Yellow is the color of the earth on the Loess Plateau, the original Home of the Chinese people. Yellow became an imperial color during the Tang dynasty, when only members of the royal family were allowed to wear it and use it in their architecture.
The Forbidden City is rectangular in shape. It is 960 meters long from north to south and 750 meter wide from east west. It has 9,900 rooms under a total roof area 150,000 square meters .A 52-meter-wide-moat encircles a 9.9-meter—high wall which encloses the complex. Octagon —shaped turrets rest on the four corners of the wall. There are four entrances into the city: the Meridian Gate to the south, the Shenwu Gate(Gate of Military Prowess) to the north, and the Xihua Gate(Gate of military Prowess) to the north, and the Xihua Gate(Western Flowery Gate )to the west ,the Donghua (Eastern Flowery Gate) to the east. Manpower and materials throughout the country were used to build the Forbidden City. A total of 230,000 artisans and one million laborers were employed. Marble was quarried from fangshan Country Mount Pan in Jixian County in Hebei Province. Granite was quarried in Quyang County in Hebei Province. Paving blocks were fired in kilns in Suzhou in southern China. Bricks and scarlet pigmentation used on the palatial walls came from linqing in Shandong Province .Timber was cut ,processed and hauled from the northwestern and southern regions.
To complete this solemn, magnificent and palatial complex, a variety of buildings were arranged on a north-south axis, and 8-kilometer-long invisible line that has become an inseparable part of the City of Beijing. The Forbidden City covers roughly one –third of this central axis. Most of the important building in the Forbidden City weree arranged along this line. The design and arrangement of the palaces reflect the solemn dignity of the royal court and rigidly –stratified feudal system.
The Forbidden City consists of an outer countyard and an inner enclosure. The out count yard covers a vast space lying between the Meridian Gate and the Gate of Heavenly Purity. The ―three big halls‖ of Supreme Harmony, Complete Harmony and Preserving Harmony constitute the center of this building group. Flanking them in bilateral symmetry are two groups of palaces: Wenhua (Prominent Scholars) and Wuying (Brave Warriors) . The three great halls are built on a spacious ―H‖-shaped, 8-meter-high, triple marble terrace, Each level of the triple terrace is taller than the on below and all are encircled by marble balustrades carved with dragon and phoenix designs. There are three carved stone staircases linking the three architectures .The hall of supreme Harmony is also the tallest and most exquisite ancient wooden-structured mansion in all of China. From the palace of Heavenly Purith northward is what is known as the inner court, which is also built in bilaterally symmetrical patterns. In the center are the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and Peace and Palace of Earthly Tranquility, a place where the Emperors lived with their families and attended to state affairs. Flanking these structures are palaces and halls in which concubines and princes lived. There are also three botanical gardens within the inner count, namely, the imperial Garden, Caning garden and Quailing garden. An inner Golden Water River flows eastwardly within the inner court. The brook winds through three minor halls or palaces and leads out of the Forbidden City. It is spanned by the White Jade Bridge. The river is lined with winding, marble –carved balustrades. Most of the structures within the Forbidden City have yellow glazed tile roofs.
5.Temple of Heaven Park(Tiantan Park)
The Temple of Heaven is located in southern Beijing. It is included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998. With an area of 2.7 million square meters, it is the largest of its kind in the country. Built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle, the temple was where emperors went to worship heaven for good harvests. The temple consists of two parts——the inner altar and outer altar. The main buildings are in the inner altar, on the north-south axis. At the southern end are the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar . On the northern end are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Hall of Imperial Zenith . The structures at both ends are connected by a 360-meter-long walk. There is also the Hall of Abstinence inside the West Heavenly Gate in which the emperor fasted for three days and bathed before prayer. The temple’s main building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperor prayed for good harvests. The round hall, 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, has triple eaves and a cone-shaped deep blue tile roof crowned with a gilded knob. Surrounding the hall is a six-meter-high spacious circular stone terrace on three levels, each edged by a balustrade of carved white marble. The Circular Mound Altar is one of the more important buildings and is a three-tier white stone terrace enclosed by two walls. Geometrically designed, the altar has a taiji rock at the center of the top terrace. If you stand on the rock and speak in a normal voice, your voice will sound louder and more resonant to yourself than to others around you, because the sound waves reflected by the balustrades are bounced back to the center by the round wall . The Imperial Vault of Heaven, the place to lay the memorial tablets to the heaven is to the north of the Circular Mound Altar. It is very similar in structure to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests but is smaller. The Vault, made of brick and timber, is 19 meters high and 15.6 meters in diameter. It is surrounded by a circular wall of polished brick with an opening to the south. This is known as the Echo Wall(6) and is 3.72 meters high, 61.5 meters in diameter and 193 meters in circumference. If a person whispers close to the wall at any point, his voice can be heard distinctly at any other point along the wall. Around the Hall of Abstinence are two imperial ditches and they are circled by a 163-bay walkway. The Abstinence Bronze Man Pavilion and Time and Memorial Tablets Pavilion are at he Celestial Terrace of the main hall. To add the solemnity of the occasion, the bells in the two bell towers at the northeast end were struck when the emperor prayed for good harvests.
Beihai Park located in central Beijing, is one of the oldest and most authentically perserved imperial gardens in China. It has a history of 1000 years.
Beihai has existed throughout the Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Most of the buildings now standing were constructed during Emperor Qianlong’s regin in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.).
Beihai was opened to the public in 1925 and in 1961 it was one of the first important cultural sites placed under protection by the State Council. The park occupies an area of 69 hectares including a 39-hectare lake. In the garden, pavilions and towers nestle amid the beautiful scenery of lakes and hills,grass and trees. Carrying on the traditions of garden landscaping of ancient China Beihai is a gem of garden art.
The Ming Tombs are located in Changping District, about 50 kilometers to the northwest of Beijing. This imperial cemetery covers an are a of 40 square kilometers with 13 Ming emperors, 23 empresses, many imperial concubines, princes and princesses buried here. These tombs are the best preserved of all Chinese imperial tombs.
The Ming dynasty was established in 1368 by Zhu Yuanzhang, the 1st Ming emperor, and he made Nanjing as the capital. But when the 3rd emperor Zhu Di came to the throne, he decided to move the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. There are some reasons. For one thing, Beijing is a place of great strategic importance to the whole country. And for another, the Emperor Zhu Di used to be the King of Beijing before he came to the throne, and he missed his former headquarter. In 1406, the emperor started to build the Forbidden City. And in 1407, Empress Xu died. In order to show his determination on moving the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, Emperor Zhu Di decided to bury her in Beijing instead of in the former capital Nanjing.
First, a geomancer was asked to find a best spot for the imperial burial ground based on “Feng Shui”. It is similar to the western geomancy. After serious consideration, the present site was finally chosen. As the site was decided, in 1409 the construction of his tomb Chang Ling started, and it was completed in 1472, but the underground tomb was completed in 1413.
After the Emperor Zhu Di, all the Ming emperors had their tombs built in this area, except the 7th emperor Jingtai. The thirteen tombs took more than 200 years to complete. The Ming Tombs area is the most massive and best-preserved imperial tomb structure in the world.
A Sacred Way is always found in an imperial cemetery. The Scared Way of the Ming Tombs is 7 kilometers long from the Memorial Stone Archway to the gate of Chang Ling. It was built for Chang Ling, Emperor Zhu Di’s tomb, but since the other 12 tombs were also built in this area, the Sacred Way became the main road for all the thirteen tombs. Although they were from one group, each tomb is independent. Along the sacred way are Marble Archway, Great Palace Gate, Tablet Tower, Stone Statues, Dragon and Phoenix Gate, and the gate of Chang Ling.
Yonghegong (The Lama Temple) is a famous place located in the northeastern part of the old city of Beijing. It was a palatial build built in 1694 by Qing Emperor Kangxi for his fourth son, Prince Yongzheng who later succeeded to the throne. This magnificent temple consists of five main buildings lying on the north-south axis, with annex halls standing on both sides. The temple is listed by the Chinese Government as one of the important historical monuments under special preservation. After the death of his father, Emperor Yongzheng moved to the Forbidden City. The compound was closed to ordinary people and was renamed yonghegong (the Palace of Harmony). Green roof tiles were replaced by yellow ones to suit a monarch’s home. In 1744 his successor Emperor Qianlong converted the palace into a lamasery. Several renovations have been carried out since 1949.The temple has taken on a new look and was reopened to the public in 1981.It is now not only a functional lama temple, but also a tourist attraction. Of interest to visitors in the Lama Temple are the 18-metre-high Maitreya statue engraved from a 26-metre-long white sandal-wood log, “the Five hundred Arhats Hill” made of gold, silver, copper, iron and tin, and the niche carved out of nanmu (this kind of Phoebe nanmu can give off a unusual scent reputed to repel mosquitoes in summer). These three objects are accredited as the three matchless masterpieces in the Lama Temple.
South Luogu Lane is 786 meters long and 8 meters wide, connecting Gulou East St. on its north and Di’anmen East St. on the south. South Luogu Lane was built in 1267 when Yuan Da Du was constructed, and was a component of the market area in Yuan Da Du’s urban layout, which had the imperial government built in the front, the market area at the back, the imperial ancestral temple on the left, and the sacrificial altar on the right. The lane was part of the Zhaohui Community in the Yuan Dynasty, and served as the dividing line between the Zhaohui community and the Jinggong Community in the Ming Dynasty. It was under the jurisdiction of the Xianghuang Banner during the years of Emperor Qianlong, and belonged to the Left III Community in the late years of Emperor Guangxu and during the years of Emperor Xuantong. During the Republic of China years, it belonged to the Inner V Community. The Lane was called “Luoguo Lane” in the Ming Dynasty due to its “luoguo” feature with the middle part higher than the two ends. In 1750, the lane got a homonymic name of “Luogu Lane”, and was divided into South Luogu Lane and Northern Luogu Lane(now within the Andingmen Community). The name of the lane remained “South Luogu Lane” during and after the years of the Republic of China. The Hutong was briefly called “Huihuang St.” during the Cultural Revolution and later regained its current name. South Luogu Lane was built under the architectural concept of “residential blocks”– with the lane serving as the central line dividing 8 parallel Hutongs on each side, hence forming the outlook of a fish bone, or a “Wugong”. Thus, the lane was also called “Wugong Lane”. South Luogu Lane is the only remaining traditional residential area in China that still fully preserves the chess-board style layout of Hutongs typically found in the Yuan Dynasty, with its scale, quality and historical value unmatched by any other lanes. South Luogu Lane was among the first 25 areas listed for historical preservation by the Beijing Municipal Government in November 1990. Currently, within the South Luogu Lane area, one site has been listed for national level preservation, 11 sites for municipal level preservation, and 9 sites for district level preservation. With its impressive historical and cultural legacy, South Luogu Lane has become an attractive area for tourism and cultural creativity in the ancient capital Beijing. Today, South Luogu Lane is among one of the oldest Hutongs around and has a history of over 800 years. This near 800-meter long North-South alleyway is filled with bars, cafes, restaurants, artsy little shops, souvenir shops and cute boutiques. It’s worth to spend an hour or two walking through the little alley ways and Hutongs around it.
10.Bell and Drum Towers(Hutong)
The bell and drum were originally used as musical instruments in China. Afterward, however, they were used for telling time. As early as in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220), there was ‘a morning bell and a dusk drum’. Telling the time by bell and drum played an important role in helping people live and work regularly when there was no other means to keep track of the time. As a result, bell and drum towers became public architectures, and were widely constructed in almost every city throughout the country since the Han Dynasty. In the history of their construction, the bell and drum towers of Beijing are the largest and highest. Their layout is unique, in that they were placed fore-and-aft, not as the traditional sense of standing right-and-left horizontally.
Lying to the north of Beijing-south axis line in Dongcheng District, the bell and drum towers are visibly prominent constructions and represent the symbol of this old city. They were built in 1272, and rebuilt twice after two fires. At one period in history they were the time-telling center of the capital city during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911).
This brick and stone towers have two floors: there is an arched door on all four sides of the tower on the first floor, and you can go up to the second floor through stone stairs. The same exists on the first floor. An arched door was also built on the four sides of the second floor. Additionally, there is a stone window on each side of the four doors. Hanging on an eight-square wooden frame of the second floor, the bell in this tower is the largest and heaviest in China. It is 7.02 meters (23 feet) high including the pendants, with a weight of 63 tons (138,891 pounds). The bell was made of copper, and you can hear its round and clear sound from far away. The two 2-meter-long (2 yards) wooden logs hanging sideward are used to ring the bell.
Located 100 meters (109 yards) south to the bell tower, the drum tower was placed on a 4-meter-high (13 feet) stone and brick base. It is 46.7 meters (153 feet) high, a little bit lower than the bell tower that is 47.9 meters high (157 feet). This tower is also a two-storey building; the first floor contains the China Committee for the Promotion of the Minority Art. The second floor contains the exhibition area. Originally, there was one big drum and 24 smaller drums, but only the big drum remains. The method of beating the drum is to beat it quickly for 18 times and then slowly for 18 times. Altogether there are three rounds and 108 tollings. People knock the bell and the drum 108 times, because 108 times represent one year in ancient times.
Telling time by ringing the bell and beating the drum was abolished after Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, left the Forbidden City. Since the New Year’s Eve of 1990, the sweet sound of the bell that had disappeared for a long time began to ring out in Beijing. Being drowsy for nearly a century, the drum was also beaten again on the New Year’s Eve of 2001. It has been beaten four times a day, for 15 minutes at a time since January 1st in 2002. From then on, every New Year Eve, the drum is beaten with the bell 108 times to send a blessing to the people.
The area of the bell and drum towers has been flourishing since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), when they were just standing behind the imperial palace. It was the busy downtown district there then, full of storefronts and businesses. Thanks to the further developing of the businesses, the street in front of the drum tower became the busiest shopping street in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. During the Republican Period of China (1911-1949), many have-nots (impoverished people),along with merchants selling handcrafted items (handicraftsmen) and vendors selling snacks and local food items (snack stands) swarmed the place between the bell and drum towers, which attracted people from all walks of life at that time.Today, when visiting, you can climb onto the bell tower and drum towers to have a birds-eye view to admire the entire city, and even take part in the activity of knocking the bell and drum, appreciating all kinds of folk-customs, such as the dragon and lion dance, and other folk-custom exhibitions.
beijing ‘s hutongs, lanes or alleys formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old beijing residents live, witness the vicissitude of the city.
the word “hutong” originates from the word “hottog” which means “well” in mongolian. villagers dig out a well and inhabited there. hutong means a lane or alley, in fact the passage formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old beijing residents live. be care not to lost in it! it was recorded that in the yuan a 36-meter-wide road was called a standard street, a 18-meter-wide one was a small street and a 9-meter-wide lane was named a hutong. in fact, beijing ‘s hutongs are inequable ranging from 40 centimeter to 10 meter in wide. the longest has more than 20 turns. either in east-west or north-south, beijing ‘s hutongs varied as slant, half or blind hutongs” cul-de-sacs. the gray-tiled houses and deep alleys crossing with each other in identical appearance like a maze, you will find it much fun to walk through but be care not to lost yourself.