Recommended package: 6 days in Beijing: The Forbidden City, The National Museum of China, Badaling Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Beijing Hutong (alleys), Gourmet Street
Best time for travel: May – November
The Forbidden City
Lying at the center of Beijing, the Forbidden City, called Gu Gong in Chinese, used to be the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). The world’s largest palace complex involved 100,000 artisans and one million civilians and took 14 years to finish. It exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. It is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. It’s the largest piece of ancient Chinese architecture still standing, boasting abundant collection of artworks and royal antique treasures and is a must-see destination in Beijing.
The National Museum of China
The National Museum of China, a four-storey main building with two symmetrical wings, was one of ten famous architectures built in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China. Many of the items on display are national treasures and precious rarities. It’s an overall display of Chinese culture and history.
Badaling Great Wall
Badaling is the first section of the Great Wall that opened to the public. With its strategic position, Badaling Section took tremendous labor and materials to build. The wall is tall and solid built by square rocks, and the beacon towers stand one by one. It was a vital protective screen of Beijing city and the important military pass of Ming Dynasty in ancient times. Winding along the ridge of the mountain, Badaling Section of the Great Wall is vividly dragon like.
Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven covers an area of 273 hectares which is four times larger than the Forbidden City. It was used to hold a memorial ceremony for the God in Winter Solstice Festival and to pray for harvest by the emperors in Ming and Qing dynasties. It is China’s existing largest structure for sacrifice to heaven. It was included in the World Heritage List in 1998.
At nine meters (about 30 feet) wide, Hutong is the name given to a lane or small street that originated during the Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368). Now they have become representatives of Beijing’s culture, thus it is the first choice for people who would like to learn about the local history and culture.
The lanes have their own layout and structure, and when viewed from the air the combination of the lanes and courtyards resemble a chessboard with delicate gardens, fine rockeries and ancient ruins this makes them a wonder in the world. Because of the cross interlacement of the lanes every houses connected to the other, making it easy for local people to keep in touch with their neighbors.