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Overview to Beijing: Travel Guide and Tourist Information

Beijing

Beijing is one of the world’s largest, oldest and most important cities. With its rich history and wonderful monuments mixing with cultural and language differences, it’s a fascinating and occasionally baffling place.

The mighty Tian’anmen Square – one of the most instantly recognizable and iconic of public spaces – forms the spiritual and geographical heart of the city. Here, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall offers up the ghoulish spectacle of Mao Zedong's preserved body.

Alongside the square sits the Forbidden City, which offers an insight into what Beijing once was – an almost impossibly grand city. Also known as the Gugong, it’s an immense complex of more than eight hundred buildings.

To the south and west of the Forbidden City lie the remains of the ’hutongs’ of Qianmen and Dazhalan Lu – a labyrinthine network of lanes and alleyways. Perhaps the city’s most distinctive quarters, they’re home to the stunning courtyard houses of the ‘siheyuan’.

Out to the northeast of the city, the impressive Lama Temple houses a wealth of Buddhist art. The Summer Palace, meanwhile, is undoubtedly one of the city’s (and indeed the world’s) most staggeringly beautiful monuments.

The centrally-located Hongqiao (famous for its pearls) and Quianmen markets are both fantastically atmospheric places to shop. Elsewhere, Xi Dan and Wangfujing are a couple of frantically busy (and more modern) shopping districts in the city.

Travelers interested in China’s communist past are often surprised to find a thoroughly modern, global city. Delving a little deeper, however, unveils a captivating mix of the ancient and the modern, from a thriving popular youth culture to creaking Maoist agendas.


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