The wonders of Chinese civilization welcome the visitors to its capital city of Beijing. Forbidden City also known as Palace Museum, the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, Mao Zedongs Mausoleum and the Ming Tombs are only some of the marvels the city can boast of.
When considering the wonders symbolizing the Chinese civilization, it is impossible to miss the Great Wall of China. Chinese rightfully take pride in this creation that has made it to the list of the Seven Wonders of the World and attracts tourists from all around the globe. The most important part of the Great Wall is probably Badaling. Badaling is viewed and protected by the State Council as a key national relic of Chinese culture. In addition to being listed as one of the New Seven Wonder s of the World in 2007, it was added to the World Cultural Heritage Directory by UNESCO. A remarkable feature very much relevant to Chinese culture is the dragon-like shape of the Badaling Great Wall as it paves its way through the mountain ranges. Besides its magnificent physical features, the Great Wall of China has been host to the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty and the first emperor of Yuan Dynasty as well. Empress Cixi utilized it to escape towards the west of China when Beijing was invaded. For these and many other reasons, Badaling Great Wall represents the history of the Chinese, the hardships they had to endure and obstacles they had to overcome in the past few thousand years. Thus, it is a cherished piece of Chinese heritage.
Forbidden City lying in the heart of Beijing is also known as Gu Gong in Chinese language and served as the palace for various emperors throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. At present, it is referred to as the Palace Museum and lies on the northern side of Tiananmen Square. This rectangular-shaped palace covers more than 70 hectares and is known to be the largest in the world. Two gates enhance the Great Wall separated by a distance of about 950 meters with the separation between the east and west walls of 750 meters. Tiananmen forms one of these gates with the Gate of Divine Might opposite to it facing Jingshan Park. Intricately designed and uniquely structured towers on the four corners of the curtain wall offer an exquisite view of the palace as well as the city. The Forbidden City itself is divided into two parts: the outer part glorifies the authority and the power emperor exercised over the people of this nation, whereas the other one represents the inner court where the emperor resided with his royal family.
This imperial palace had housed about fourteen emperors of the Ming and ten of the Qing dynasties when it was taken over in 1924 and the last Chinese emperor was driven out. Because it had been the royal palace for centuries, naturally it supports uncountable and most valuable treasures of China. Given all these qualities it possesses, it automatically forms a World Cultural Heritage Site and thus serves as one of the most popular tourist attractions around the globe. Legend has it that in order to drag stones on ice into the city, water was used via a well dug every fifty meters along the length of the road. This mystic wonder is further embellished with painted decorations as the grandeur of magnificent halls catch the tourists in awe.
Beijing also has Runis of Yuanmingyuan or the Old Summer Palace, located on its northwestern side. The Old Summer Palace is essentially divided into three parts: Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan (the Garden of Blossoming Spring) and Changchunyuan (the Garden of Eternal Spring). Numerous gardens here exhibit beautifully constructed structures including halls, kiosks, pavilions, chambers and rockhills. Exotic flowers and grasses from all over the country add to its beauty greatly and captures the essence of Chinese landscape gardening equipped with its ancient roots. Among other famous spots where the visitors can enjoy the scenic beauty of China are the Grand Waterworks, the Throne and the Labyrinth.
Even though most of the exotic spots were destructed in the 1980s, the ones that still remain have earned Yuanmingyuan the title of garden of gardens or the Versailles of the East. In order to safeguard the ruins of Yuanmingyan, a park has been constructed on the site of the ruins. This enables the visitors to play with their imagination and assess the extent of grandeur of this historical site from the crumbling walls and ruins. Moreover, the visitors can witness the picture of original Yuanmingyan in the exhibition hall and also relax in some of the perfectly reconstructed scenic spots.
Another wonder of China is the Stone Flower Cave located in Fangshan District in Beijing. It serves as a very important side for geological research as well as a beautiful scenic spot for the tourists. Especially well-known is the Karst cave that impresses the observer with its seven layers and is spread over an area of 1.8 hectares.
Another fascinating place to visit in the country is the Echo Wall. With a perimeter of over 190 meters, it is very cleverly designed to depict the phenomena of sound waves justified by the clarity of words whispered at the east root of the wall and heard at the west end.
Spread over an area of about 2,700,000 square meters, much larger in area than the Forbidden city but smaller than the Summer Palace, is the Temple of Heaven which was built in 1420 A.D. by the emperors of Ming Dynasty in order to honor and make sacrifices to Heaven. The three Echo Stones also depict the sound phenomena. If you speak facing the vault while standing on the first stone, you will hear an echo on the second stone followed by two on the third one.
In addition to the beautiful scenery and well constructed buildings, Nine Dragon Cypress is another attraction posed by China. Its nine branches appear to be dragons intertwined with each other. This Cypress was planted in its place about five centuries ago.
Inspite of all these attractions and vacation spots, the true beauty of Beijing lies in the culture of the Hutong and the courtyard which attracts flocks of tourists throughout the year. Having its origin rooted in the Yuan Dynasty, Hutong is a lane or small street in Beijing that were formed as a passageway between two courtyards to make the entrance more convenient. Its name, which means water well, symbolizes the ancient settlements of China around water wells. Tens of thousands of these enhance the beauty of the Forbidden City.
Serving as the symbol represent Beijing, a hutong enjoys a particular layout as well as structure. The amalgamation of hutongs and courtyards resembles a chess board beautified by delicate gardens, fine rockeries and ruins, Every hutong in Beijing is said to have a story attached to it. These were usually named after mules and horses that formed the major trading goods. However, some are also named marking special features such as Stone Tiger, Iron Lion, etc. The precious Chinese heritage depicted by the hutongs and the courtyards reflect the rituals and traditions of China, and contain rich cultural connotations. The remarkable architects and the embedded traditional values in the Chinese culture are sure to make your trip to Beijing a memorable one!
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