Top 5 attractions in Beijing

The Forbidden Palace, photo by Tom Thai

If cities were people, Beijing would be somewhat of a dreamer, and a capricious one at that. This sprawling yet majestic city has been the capital of China (or whatever was in its stead in the past) for long centuries, and it’s likely that it will continue its reign for at least as long in the future. Beijing is a city with ancient origins, of which it is proud of, it is the site of historical and political clashes, some more recent that the others, and at the same time it is a city dedicated to progress and technological advancement. Visit different parts of Beijing and you will feel like you’ve crossed into a different city at a different point in history, but wherever you are, you will find something interesting to see. In a city with as many sights as Beijing, it’s impossible to get bored. Here are our top 5 attractions in Beijing.

The Forbidden City

It’s impossible to talk about Beijing without talking about the Forbidden City, one of the most shining gems of Chinese tourism. This vast palace complex was the site of the imperial court in the times of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Forbidden City will predicatably be crowded during the day, but if you get to the gates early in the morning, you can walk around the huge courtyards undisturbed, and revel in the beauty of pavilions, halls and gates.

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square, photo by McKay Savage

Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world, and you’d have to have a heart of stone not to be impressed by that at least a little bit. It cannot be said that the square is pretty – after all, it is surrounded by Soviet style buildings and monuments, but it has huge historical and cultural significance. Around the square, you can find other interesting attractions like Mao’s memorial hall, or the Chinese National Museum.

Yonghegong Temple

Yonghegong is considered by many to be one of the impressive Buddhist temples in the country (even the world), and it is the legacy of various Chinese emperors who practiced the Tibetan form of Buddhism. In the 17th century, half the temple was converted into a lamasery (monastery for Tibetan Buddhist monks). The building is absolutely stunning, painted in many colors and decorated in a combination of Chinese and Tibetan styles.

National Stadium

National Stadium, photo by Curt Smith

Not all of the most impressive attractions in Beijing are old – and the National Stadium is the perfect example. This stadium, lovingly nicknamed the ‘Bird’s Nest’, is the largest steel structure in the world, but after the 2008 Summer Olympics it didn’t host many sporting events anymore. However, the stadium makes a pretty sum each day by admitting visitors at the price of 50 yuan.

The Summer Palace

The Summer Palace in Haidian District was built by the Qing Emperors, and sadly damaged quite badly over the flow of time. The palace is still intact, but some of the attractions in the garden are not, but nevertheless, it is definitely in the top 5 attractions in Beijing. However, parts of the complex have been rebuilt (like the Garden of Clear Ripples), and there are many places to explore on the hill of the Summer Palace, especially if you like hidden nooks and corners, caves and ruins.

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