Mum and I spent a week in Beijing. What a city!
The Forbidden City: this is the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty – from 1420 to 1912. The complex was huge – 980 buildings over 72 hectares. We spent a day wandering the grounds.
The park behind the Forbidden City had yet another palace, sitting on a man made hill constructed from the earth leftover from digging the moat that surrounds the Forbidden City.
Tiananmen Square: sitting right opposite the Forbidden City is the famous Tiananmen Square – the ‘symbolic centre of the Chinese universe’. We climbed the ‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’ at the entrance to the square which has an impressive view over Mao’s mausoleum, the National Museum of China and over to the Forbidden City. We went back one evening to watch the ‘lowering of the flag ceremony’ – performed by an impeccably uniformed troop of soldiers marching at precisely 108 paces per minute, 75cm per pace.
The Great Wall at Mùtiányù
My favourite day. We chose to visit the Wall at the Mùtiányù site, the recently restored Ming dynasty structure that was built upon an earlier Northern Qi dynasty wall.
We spent a few hours climbing the wall – it was much steeper than I imagined and dotted with lookout towers all the way along.
798 Art District
This suburb was full of Mao-era factories that have been turned into modern art galleries, art bookshops and cafes.
The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace is where the emperors used to go to holiday. A large lake in the centre is surrounded by bridges, palaces and gardens. The main temple sat high on the hill, and the hot climb up to it was well worth the city views. My favourite part was the marble boat – built in 1755 on the orders of Empress Cixi who used money meant to go towards building real ships for the Chinese navy! Whoops.
Temple of Heaven Park
A lovely park in the middle of the city, of course with a stunning temple in the centre.
The most renowned Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. The rooms were stunning and so intricate, with nearly as many buddha statues as visitors!