Province: Municipality of Beijing
Population: 20 million
History of Beijing
The earliest traces of human habitation in the Beijing municipality were found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill near the village of Zhoukoudian where Peking Man lived 250,000 years ago. There were numerous small kingdoms established around Beijing in the history. However, it did not played important role until Mongols declared here the capital of Yuan Dynasty. In 1264, in preparation for the conquest of all of China to establish the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan decided to build a new capital. His capital, Dadu or Daidu (today’s Beijing) to the Mongols, was completed in 1293. Kublai Khan's decision greatly enhanced the status of a city on the northern fringe of China proper.
In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty declared Nanjing to be the capital after he drove out Mongols. In 1403, the new (and third) Ming emperor – the Yongle Emperor –designated Beijing the co-capital, alongside the current capital of Nanjing. Beijing was the site of a major construction project for a new Imperial residence, the Forbidden City that lasted nearly 15 years, from 1406 to 1420.When the palace was finished, the Yongle Emperor ceremoniously took up residence.
The end of the Ming came in 1644, when Li Zicheng's peasant army captured and held Beijing for 40 days, and overthrew the government. When the powerful Manchu army arrived at the outskirts, Li and his followers abandoned the city, allowing the Manchus, under Prince Dorgon, to capture Beijing without a fight.
When Dorgon established the Qing Dynasty as the direct successor of the Ming, Beijing remained China's capital. The Qing emperors made some modifications to the Imperial residence, but in large part, the Ming buildings and the general layout remained unchanged.
The fomenters of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 sought to replace Qing rule with a republic, and capital remained at Beijing. China then fell under the control of regional warlords. During Second World War, Japanese invaded Beijing. On January 31, 1949, during the Chinese Civil War, Communist forces seized control of the city peacefully in the Pingjin Campaign. On October 1 of the same year, the Communist Party of China, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, announced in Tiananmen the creation of the People's Republic of China and renamed the city back to Beijing. Just a few days earlier, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conferences had decided that Beijing would be the capital of the new government. Since then it became the capital of PRC.
As one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the heart of China’s history for centuries, and there is scarcely a major building of any age in Beijing that does not have at least some national historical significance. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, and huge stone walls and gates. Its art treasures and universities have long made it a centre of culture and art in China.
Forbidden City (Gu Gong) 紫禁城
Home to 23 successive Ming and Qing Emperors, it was originally constructed by 1 million laborers 1406-1420. Most of the current buildings date from the C18 .
At the historical heart of Beijing lies the Forbidden City, the enormous palace compound that was the home to 23 successive Ming and Qing Emperors, it was originally constructed by 1 million laborers 1406-1420. Most of the current buildings date from the C18 ; Now it hosts the Palace Museum, which contains imperial collections of Chinese art.
Metro: Tian An Men East ( Line 1 )
Tiananmen Square 天安门广场
122 acres and large enough to hold half a million people. for public celebration or gatherings. Tiananmen Square is the largest open-air square in the world. From Tiananmen (the Gate of Heavenly Peace) Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China from here in 1949.
visitors can watch the daily national flag raising ceremony early in the morning (the time varies subject to the sunrise); visiting the National Museum of China or going to the Mausoleum of Chairman Mao in which one will see the body of the great Chinese leader.
Metro：Tian An Men East ( Line 1 )
Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum 毛主席纪念堂
Mao’s embalmed body is on view Tue-Sun 8:30-11:30am and Tue & Thu
Metro：Tian An Men East ( Line 1 )
Yonghegong (Lama) Temple 雍和宫
This Tibetan monastery is Beijing’s most colourful temple housing an 18m sandalwood Buddha, considered to be the largest sculpture ever carved from a single piece of wood. Built in 1691, it first served as an Emperor’s residence then converted into a monastery in 1744.
Metro: Yonghegong ( Line 5 )
Temple of Heaven 天坛
Among the best known religious sites in the city is the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan), located in southeastern Beijing, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties made visits for annual ceremonies of prayers to Heaven for good harvest. It is a stunning example of Ming architecture; the prime meeting point of between heaven and earth, surrounded by a 267 hectare park.
Metro: Tiantandongmen ( Line 5 )
The Summer Palace 颐和园
The present layout dates from the C18th. It is now a vast public park, two-
thirds lake, with comprehensive collection of imperial gardens and palaces that served as the summer retreat for the Qing emperors.
Metro: Beigongmen ( Line 4 )
Beijing’s Hutongs 胡同
These charming narrow alleyways are home to nearly one quarter of
Beijing’s residents. It reflect the traditional way of life in Beijing. The hutongs are generally straight and run east to west so that doorways face north and south for good Feng Shui. They vary in width; some are so narrow, only a few pedestrians can pass through at a time. However, these backstreets are fast disappearing as roads widen, apartment blocks are built, and the city prepares itself for the 2008 Olympic Games. Best to explore on foot or by bike. The areas around Qianmen (south of Tiananmen) and the Drum Tower (around Hou Hai) are great.
Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty 明13陵
Located at the outskirts of urban Beijing, but within its municipality are the Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty, the lavish and elaborate burial sites of thirteen Ming emperors, which have been designated as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
The Great Wall 长城
There are several sections of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Great Wall of China, most notably Badaling, Jinshanling, Simatai and Mutianyu. Historical records trace the construction of the origin of the Wall to defensive fortification back to the year 656 B.C. during the reign of King Cheng of the States of Chu. Its construction continued throughout the different periods. Later in 221 B.C., when Qin conquered the other states and unified China, Emperor Qinshihuang ordered the connection of these individual walls and further extensions to form the basis of the present great wall. In the many intervening centuries, succeeding dynasties rebuilt parts of the Wall. The most extensive reinforcements and renovations were carried out in the Ming Dynasty (1368--1644) when altogether 18 lengthy stretches were reinforced with bricks and rocks. It is mostly the Ming Dynasty Wall that visitors see today.
Beijing or Peking opera 京剧
It is a traditional form of Chinese theatre well known throughout the nation. Commonly lauded as one of the highest achievements of Chinese culture, Beijing opera is performed through a combination of song, spoken dialogue, and codified action sequences involving gestures, movement, fighting and acrobatics. Much of Beijing opera is carried out in an archaic stage dialect quite different from Modern Standard Chinese and from the modern Beijing dialect.
The cloisonné 景泰蓝
The cloisonné, metalworking technique, is a Beijing art specialty and one of the most revered traditional crafts in China. Cloisonné making requires elaborate and complicated processes includingbase-hammering, copper-strip inlay, soldering, enamel-filling, enamel-firing, surface polishing and gilding.
There are over one hundred museums in Beijing.In addition to the Palace Museum in the Forbidden City and the National Museum of China, other major museums include the National Art Museum of China, the Capital Museum, the Beijing Art Museum, the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution, the Geological Museum of China, the Beijing Museum of Natural History and the Paleozoological Museum of China.
Xiushui Silk Market 秀水东街
Outdoor & designer clothing, shoes, bags, silk, jewelry, DVDs and CDs.
Lots of foreign tourists frequent the silk market making bargaining difficult,
but stick to your guns. Subway Yong’anli
Hong Qiao Market 虹桥市场
Opposite the east gate of the Temple of Heaven. Clothing is on the 2nd
floor, and souvenirs and pearls galore on the 3rd floor.
Panjiayuan (Dirt Market) 潘家园市场
A great antique market that is only open on weekends. Take a taxi and go
early to avoid the crowds.
A prestigious and popular shopping haunt of locals and foreigners. The
Foreign Language Bookstore is at #235. Watch out for art dealers
(normally two sweet English speaking young students) encouraging you to
view an exhibition but really wanting you to buy.
Just south of Hepingmen subway station, this neatly reconstructed
heritage shopping street is full of curio shops with expensive, quality
Currency Exchange 兑换
Generally hotel reception can exchange major currencies at the official rate.
All branches of the Bank of China provide exchange services.
Cash advances on Visa & MasterCard are available at major Bank of China branches with a service charge of 3.5%
IDD calls from the hotel or at the CNC long distance call shop across from the hotel.
Post Office 邮局:
The main post office is on Jianguomen – 2 metro stops west of the Silk Market. Boxes and packing materials are all available. Most hotels will let you send postcards via hotel reception.
Metro 地铁 – fast & easy
Cheap & safe. All have meters. Ensure you have your destination written in Chinese as drivers have limited English.
Eating & Entertainment
Local Specialties 特色菜 Beijing roast duck – Peking duck 北京烤鸭 is a local institution, slow cooked in a wood-fired oven to crisp the skin and keep the Juices in!
*Very close to the hotel is Wangfujing street which is famous for its snack stalls selling everything from noodles to fried insects.
*Dongzhimen Nei Dajie (东直门内大街) or Ghost Street is filled with every style of restaurant all along a long avenue.
Special Recommendation - Najia Xiaoguan Restaurant and its story.
There are many decent restaurants in Beijing, this is one of the few that nail everything, service, environment, and food. “Na” is a Manchu surname, and Najia“ is the once that serves authentic Manchurian cuisine.
The setting is an old style hutong building that has been renovated to house the restaurant, but done in a very dignified sort of way. The food is described as Manchu style,
The Manchus, who toppled the Ming and established the Qing Dynasty (1636 – 1912), enjoyed relative prosperity while in power. Manchurian cuisine, as a result, flourished. This Manchurian restaurant delivers consistently delicious and unique food in a classy and traditional Chinese teahouse style at accessible prices. The place is perfect for catching up with close friends or business partners.
The menu has been simplified from the famous Man Han Imperial Feast, which consisted of 108 unique dishes derived from Manchu and Han flavors, but still has enough variety to keep customers coming back. The names of the dishes are carved on small sticks that come on two wooden trays.
Crispy fried prawns are an indispensable house special at 38 yuan. The prawns are frozen within 30 minutes of being taken out of seawater, ensuring they taste tender and the shells become transparent after frying.
Because the Manchus loved hunting, deer meat became a favorite among the people. The “Deer Stew in Imperial Pot,” from 68 to 98 yuan, is thicand good to try. At Najia, this dish is made from thick, meaty soup that’s been slow-cooked for at least 18 hours. The flavor of deer meat is richer than beef but less tender. The house’s sweet and sour plm juice with honey and maple syrup is great for whetting appetites.
Other typical Manchu dishes include the appetizers Eight Banner eggplant (58 yuan), rice flavor fried chicken with walnut (48 yuan) and purple yam with sweet osmanthus sauce (32 yuan).
An English menu is available. Reservations for should be made three to four days in advance.
Add：South School West, Jianguomenwai, Beijing, China
Tel.: 86-10- 6567-3663119
Sanlitun Bar Street (Sanlitun Bei Jiu Ba Jie 三里屯北酒吧街) .
Houhai Bar street （后海酒吧街）