Beijing’s top 40 sights – descriptions and photos

Beijing sights

Great Wall of China Historical Museum Forbidden City Art Museum Wax Museum Summer Palace Heaven Temple Tiananmen Square

This site compiles Beijing’s landmarks – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular travel guides and presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find answers to questions: what to see in Beijing, where to go and where are the popular and interesting places in Beijing.

Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China (photo)

The Great Wall of China is China’s calling card in the tourism business, but in fact this marvelous structure was designed to protect China’s territories from the north. The first Chinese wall was built back in the 3rd century BC. Since then, its construction continued until the 17th century, not only different rulers of China, but also different dynasties contributed to the Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China still demonstrates the majesty and power of the Celestial Empire. Its length is almost 9,000 km. Moreover, its width allowed the cavalry to cross it. Chinese rulers extremely appreciate it and up to now carried out the restoration, that is why the Great Wall of China is in perfect condition and amazes tourists with its historical and cultural value.

In 1987 the Great Wall of China was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is hard to imagine visiting China without taking a stroll along the incredible structure which amazes with its scale.

Coordinates: 40.33280800,116.47765000

Historical Museum

Historical Museum (photo)

One of the central landmarks, both in terms of historical significance and architectural value, is the building of the Beijing Historical Museum near Tiananmen Square. The austere stone building with two rows of tall pillars stretching along the facade houses two museums at once. In the Museum of the Revolution you can learn about the history of the liberation struggle of the Chinese people. And the Historical Museum takes visitors through the history of China from antiquity to the mid-19th century.

The History Museum has fulfilled its scientific and educational mission for many years. The exhibition is divided into three large departments, according to the specific historical and cultural epoch. Several thousand different exhibits are on display on a large area. Numerous showcases and stands hold rare artifacts from thousands of years ago and items more familiar to ordinary people. Colorful dioramas and models, copies of works of art and authentic creations collected from many places in China tell the story of China. The exhibition is carefully designed to keep up with the latest developments in museums.

Coordinates : 39.91026300,116.42538100

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Forbidden City

Forbidden city (photo)

The Forbidden City is located in the heart of Beijing. Its grounds are vast and include many buildings. This palace complex allows visitors to experience the history and culture of China, typical architectural elements, colors, sculptures.

The Forbidden City was built according to all the rules of feng shui science: its entrance faces south, it is enclosed by mountains to the north and a river runs inside. All this contributes to the accumulation of energy, which was supposed to allow the Chinese rulers to lead the country better and more effectively. For a long time all commoners were forbidden to enter the Forbidden City. Only the royal dynasty and their servants, eunuchs, concubines could be there. However not everyone observed this prohibition, even under pain of a death penalty. Ordinary people were curious to know what was behind the 10-meter walls of the Forbidden City and many risked their lives.

Visiting the Forbidden City, tourists can observe more than a million different sculptures and cultural treasures of China. Enjoy that amazing atmosphere that is so far away from the western world.

Coordinates : 39.91841000,116.39070500

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Art Museum

Art Museum (photo)

The Art Museum was opened in December 1999. It exhibits treasures from ancient China. The museum has permanent exhibitions of stone sculpture and bronze products. You can see cups of the Shang Dynasty, ancient cooking pots and bells as well as forty carved Buddha figures dating from the V-VIII centuries found in Shandong Province. The entire exposition of the museum fully reflects the development and unique charm of China’s ancient civilization.

The purpose of the museum is to collect rare and valuable collections, not to chase the number of all kinds of cultural and historical artifacts.

Coordinates : 39.93294000,116.43266900

Wax Museum

Wax Museum (photo)

The Wax Museum in Beijing, one of the largest in China, showcases the history of the Ming Dynasty. The rooms recreate episodes from the lives of emperors and commoners, each of which provides insights not only into a historical period, but also into the characters of the rulers themselves. The wax figures of historical figures are made very realistic, starting with the clothes and down to the smallest details. The figures here don’t just talk to each other, they live here!

The exhibition of the wax museum can be divided into three categories: historical events and episodes of life or death. Looking at them, it becomes clear that life in and around the imperial palace was both cruel and “fun”. Here are emperors and officials, concubines and nobles, tax collectors and the poor – ragged and mired in dire need and poverty. The country is on the brink of collapse, and the imperial court is drowning in luxury. You see Mongol raids, devastated villages, battles and assaults, a bubbling whirlpool of city blocks – and it all seems to be frozen, as if someone pressed the “pause” button. A real immersion in the atmosphere of that distant time.

Coordinates: 39.95337200,116.41471300

Summer Palace

Summer Palace (photo)

On the northwestern outskirts of Beijing is one of China’s largest parks, the Summer Palace, a country imperial residence. Construction of the park began under the Qing Emperor Qianlong in 1750.

The park consists of several areas: near the East Gate there is a palace ensemble, near the lake there is the Mountain of Longevity, on which the tallest structure is the tower-terem Fosyange – the Tower of the Buddha’s Honor Reclaims. The area of the park is a maze of canals, artificial lakes and islands. There are many pavilions, palace buildings, numerous alleys. Along the lake to the Mountain of Longevity is an amazing painted gallery – it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s longest painted corridor” – 728 meters.

Unfortunately, not all the architectural structures have survived, but even the green ruins look very picturesque. In 1998, the magnificent Summer Palace was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The park is considered a masterpiece of Chinese landscape design.

Coordinates : 39.99967600,116.27346000

Heaven Temple

The Temple of Heaven (photo)

In the southern part of Beijing is the Temple of Heaven (Tiantan). It is known primarily for its unconventional for Chinese temples round shape. The Temple of Heaven is included in the Temple of Heaven Park, which is considered one of the largest temple and monastery complexes in the country. It was built during the Ming dynasty by Emperor Yong Le in 1420.

At the entrance to the park, you can see a huge altar on which anyone can stand. From the altar to the northern part of the complex leads 30 meters wide road. This is where the Temple of Heaven, also called the Temple of Prayer for the Harvest, is located. According to the Chinese tradition, the round shape of the building symbolizes the sky.

Every year on the winter solstice, the emperor comes here to pray for a rich harvest and leave generous gifts.

Coordinates: 39.88240800,116.40658400

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Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square (photo)

Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world and is located in the center of Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Tiananmen Square literally translates as “Gate of Heavenly Peace”.The square is named after Tiananmen Gate, which separates it from the Forbidden City and is to the north of the square itself.

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Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the entire world. As of today, the square is 880 meters long and 500 meters wide. Tiananmen Square is so large that it can hold more than a million people at a time. There are always a lot of tourists in Tiananmen Square, who can stroll and enjoy Beijing in peace. The square gives tourists an opportunity to learn about the past and present of the Celestial Empire.

Tiananmen Square is located in the center of the city and is considered a symbol of the Chinese nation.

Nearby Tiananmen Square is the most famous and astonishing landmarks of the city.

Coordinates: 39.90416700,116.39166700

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Great Wall of China

It’s easy to love Beijing! Learn about popular attractions like the Forbidden City and offbeat places where tourists rarely visit. We’ll tell you what time it’s best to visit Beijing’s palaces and parks.

We’ll tell you why you should love Beijing! China’s capital is a huge world that contains ancient monuments, beautiful palaces and towering skyscrapers. The city has streets of bustling traffic and quiet corners of beautiful gardens. See the unique sights of Beijing and your heart will melt.

Tiananmen Square

The first place to see in China’s capital city is the enormous historic square. Tiananmen Square sprawls over 400,000 square meters and holds up to 1 million spectators. Such a crowd of people is even difficult to imagine, but that is how many Chinese gather here during parades.

To the west of Tiananmen is the House of People’s Assemblies, the place where the country’s parliament meets. To the east is the National Museum, the tall Monument to the People’s Heroes and Mao Zedong’s mausoleum.

The square is not a modern Beijing landmark. It appeared in the 15th century. Since the Middle Ages, the Main Solar Gate and the Archers’ Tower have stood here. You’re advised to get to the area early before there are too many tourists.

Beijing sights

Tiananmen Square. Photo: kitsanchez / unsplash.com.

Gate of Heavenly Serenity

Want to see the landmark in Beijing that is depicted on the emblem of the PRC? The sacred symbol of power is located to the north of Tiananmen Square. The front entrance to the Imperial City was built in 1420. Over 700 years, the sacred gate has been repeatedly destroyed in natural disasters and riots, but each time it has been rebuilt.

Get there early! Every day at sunrise there is a spectacular ceremony at the gate as the military raises the national flag.

Popular excursions in Beijing:

Forbidden City

This is the name of the palace complex of the Ming and Qing dynasties who ruled China from 1420 to 1912. The Forbidden City is home to the Gugong Museum, which houses about a million artifacts.

The largest palace on the planet is surrounded by a protective wall. On the way to the Forbidden City, tourists pass through three gates. In the center is the Hall of Supreme Harmony – the Taihedian Pavilion. Admission costs CNY 60 from April to October and CNY 40 from November to March.

Don’t expect to see all the attractions of the Forbidden City in one day! It will take at least a week.

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The Forbidden City. Photo: maxvdo / unsplash.com.

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The Palace of Prince Gong (Gongwangfu)

Not far from Qianhai Lake is the beautiful palace of Prince Gong. On its scale, Gunwangfu is second only to the Forbidden City. The area of the princely palace occupies 60,000 square meters and is divided into two parts – a park and a residential area. The complex includes a museum and an ancient theater. On the platform, which is decorated with a screen of boxwood, performers of the Beijing Opera and Chinese circus. An entrance ticket to the museum costs CNY 40 and a guided tour costs CNY 70.

Summer Palace (Yheyuan)

In the East, they like to express themselves beautifully, so the Emperor’s summer palace is called the Garden of Peace and Harmony. Iheyuan is nothing like the austere Forbidden City. The ornate buildings and luxurious park are Beijing’s landmarks that set you up for relaxation and contemplation.

Try counting the lion figures on the Shiqiquan Bridge and admiring the Zhihuihei Temple! During high season, entrance to the palace costs CNY 30, and a ticket to see all the interesting places in the complex is CNY 60.

Beijing sights

Summer Palace (Yheyuan). Photo: kitsanchez / unsplash.com.

Old Summer Palace (Yuanmingyuan)

The Emperor’s Old Summer Palace is no less beautiful than the Iheyuan. Its name means “Gardens of Perfect Clarity” in Chinese. The picturesque stone ruins in the shade of the trees are a reminder of the fleeting time that even the world’s most powerful rulers were unable to cope with.

National Museum

To learn about the history of the most populous nation on the planet, go to the museum in Tiananmen Square. The National Museum of China has exhibits on display that aren’t found anywhere else in the world.

Look at the sacrificial tripod weighing 800 kg and more than 3 thousand years old. One of the most famous artifacts is the “Jade Prince”, a funerary garment sewn with gold thread from polished pieces of jade. You can see these treasures for free.

Heaven Temple

The ancient Chinese believed that their emperor was a messenger of heaven, so such power needed a feedback. Every year during the winter solstice, solemn prayers were performed in the majestic Temple of Heaven.

The circular-shaped building resembled a decorative box. The three-tier roof is supported by 28 pillars. In the middle there are four pillars representing the seasons, and around them there are 12 columns which symbolize months. The next row of 12 pillars means 12 hours.

It costs 30-35 CNY to enter. Come early in the morning and you will watch the Chinese do oriental gymnastics in the gorgeous park.

What to see in Beijing

Temple of Heaven. Photo: c_b_a / unsplash.com.

Confucius Temple (Qiufu).

One of the most prominent landmarks in downtown Beijing has graced the city since the early 14th century. The picturesque temple is divided into four courtyards and surrounded by 189 stone stelae with quotations from the writings of Confucius. Everything about this place is very philosophical!

Ticket prices vary depending on the time of year – 15-30 CNY. Some Chinese people order ceremonial music for a fee.

Lama Temple (Yongheggun)

The colorful temple in the northern part of the Imperial City represents the most significant milestone in the history of Chinese Buddhism. Yongheggun was built during the reign of Yong Qingwang, who called for harmony and justice.

The main part of the temple, the Hall of Ten Thousand Fortunes, houses a sandalwood statue of the Buddha of the Future over 25 metres high. If you come here, your luck might just explode out of the horn of plenty. Entrance to the Buddhist monastery costs 25 CNY.

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Lama Temple. Photo: jsalvino / unsplash.com.

Lugou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge).

This is one of Beijing’s oldest landmarks. The old bridge over the Yundinghe River has always existed. In 475 BC there was a wooden bridge that connected the two banks of the river at a distance of 16 km from the historical center of Beijing. At the beginning of XII century the bridge was built of stone and made arched. This is how the traveler Marco Polo described it.

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Today, the bridge with 500 stone lions can be used only on foot or by bicycle. There is a strip of old masonry in the middle with traces of carts and horses’ hooves. Real seals of the times! There is a fee to enter the bridge, 20 CNY.

Houhai Lake

Among the main attractions in Beijing is a chain of artificial lakes, which in the XIII-XIV centuries were dug next to the Imperial Palace. The beautiful bodies of water are still maintained in perfect condition.

Houhai Lake is connected by channels to Xihai and Tsanhai Lakes. Picturesque shores with weeping willows, restaurants, bars, stores and souvenir shops on the waterfront attract many tourists. Very cool on the lake in the evening, when the nightclubs open and the air fills with the aromas of different cuisines of the world. Walk through the narrow streets – hutongs, and you can easily feel the spirit of the old city!

Zoo

An attraction worth seeing in Beijing with children, located at the level of the second ring road. The zoo is home to over seven thousand specimens of different animals – crocodiles, elephants, snub-nosed monkeys, giant salamanders, cranes, rhinos and tigers.

The Beijing Zoo also keeps and breeds the giant pandas, animals that China considers national treasures and gives away on special terms to zoos around the world. There are a lot of people interested in coming here, so plan your visit for a weekday! A full ticket to the Panda House, Zoo and Oceanarium is not cheap at 170 CNY. But kids will be admitted for free!

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A bear at the Beijing Zoo. Photo: aervea / unsplash.com.

Nujie Mosque

If you’re interested in the architectural sights of Beijing, don’t miss the unique temple that was built in the city in 996. The first Islamic missionaries came to China in the 7th century. Gradually a Muslim community emerged in the capital of the country.

The Chinese mosque was built according to the national canons. The red-green facades are covered with carvings and the building has a practical tile roof. The interiors are in the strict traditions of Islam. Tourists are only allowed inside on Sundays.

TV Tower

If you dream of seeing the sights of Beijing from a bird’s eye view, take a scenic view of the city from the Beijing Television Tower! You can see the streets and buildings of the capital from a height of 238 meters. If you want to see everything in detail, you can do it with a telescope. TV Tower ticket costs 99 CNY.

At the height of 221 meters there is a restaurant on a rotating platform. The average bill here is quite democratic – 200-300 CNY. Under the tower is an entertainment center “Underwater World of the Pacific”, where you can see the funny penguins, jellyfish and fish. Admission for adults costs CNY 150.

Wangjing SOHO Skyscrapers

The skyscrapers in the Wangjing district are an ultra-modern landmark in Beijing. The pride of Chinese high-tech is three mountains of glass and concrete that rise to a height of 118, 127 and 200 meters. The air conditioning, power and water supply are so good that the Beijing high-rises consume 40% less than skyscrapers elsewhere in the world. Admire the elegant curves of the skyscrapers that point skyward!

Beijing sights

The Wangjing SOHO skyscrapers. Photo: roadtripwithraj / unsplash.com.

Yabaolu Market.

To hear your native tongue and see the descendants of Russian immigrants, head to the colorful Yabaolu Market. Our compatriots settled here at the beginning of the last century. Look closely, haggle, and you will bring down the initial price by 3-4 times. But beware of pickpockets!

Pearl Market

This five-story shopping complex has a very modern history. It was built in 1995 to gather all the traders under one roof and to clear the way to the Temple of the Sky. Today, the Pearl Market is the most popular place visited by tourists.

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On the 1st and 2nd floors, they sell clothes and electronics. The third floor is devoted to pearls, on the 4th floor there are big trading companies and on the 5th floor there are jewelry stores. Buy a string of real Chinese pearls and you will get a nice bonus – small pearl earrings!

The Shops and Markets of Beijing

Counter at the market. Photo: eprouzet / unsplash.com.

Lulichan Street.

A paradise for connoisseurs of Chinese antiquities is just south of the Forbidden City. An antique and souvenir market stretches the entire length of the picturesque street. Most of the houses on Lyulichang were built in the 19th century, and their roofs are decorated with gold or red tiles. On the first floors there are several galleries with works of Chinese calligraphers. Don’t want to take your eyes off the camera!

Digital Beijing Building

In direct contrast to the skyscrapers of Wanjing, Digital Beijing is a dark, cube-shaped building designed by Chinese architect Pei Zhu. The angular shapes and gloomy color evoke responses ranging from admiration to total rejection of the project, but no one is indifferent.

We recommend to look at the original building in the evening, when the LED lighting is on. The green lights that crawl across the 13-story facades make them look like a bar code.

Beijing sights

Another interesting building is the Headquarters of China Central Television. Photo: whatyouhide / unsplash.com.

Non-trivial attractions in Beijing

Mao Zedong Mausoleum . The Chinese leader is treated ambiguously in the world, but no one can deny Mao Zedong’s role in Chinese history. The line to the mausoleum in Tiananmen Square moves quickly. Admission is free, and you have to pay 15 CNY for the luggage room.

Shishikou Cathedral . Jesuit missionaries came to China in the 16th century. After doctors from Europe cured the Emperor Kangxi, he gave the Jesuits a plot of land and allowed them to build a Catholic temple. You will be surprised, but the Gothic cathedral is decorated with Chinese carvings and statues of stone lions.

Botanical Garden . Compared to the main attractions in Beijing, the botanical garden is young. It was founded in 1955. Come here to see the flower-shaped glass greenhouse building and relax in the wonderful park!

Qianmen Street . To see traditional and colonial houses from the 19th and early 20th centuries, walk along the street that runs south from Mao Zedong’s mausoleum. A rarity streetcar runs along it.

Silk Factory . The production, museum and store will interest anyone who wants to learn more about silk production in China.

Happy Valley Amusement Park . Tired of going around Beijing? Take a ride at China’s equivalent of Disneyland.

Jade Island at Beihai Park . The white Buddhist temple on top of the island is a symbol of China’s commitment to Buddhism. It offers wonderful views of the Forbidden City, green parks, and lakes.

Jingshan Park Arbors . Each structure has a poetic name – “Enjoying the Scents”, “Beautiful Views”, “Tower of Hope” and “Contemplating Beauty”. A walk in the beautifully landscaped park will easily make you forget what century it is!

Peace Park . To see sights from around the planet in Beijing, go to the Miniature Park. The 460,000-square-meter area features famous monuments and buildings from various countries. Admission costs CNY 80-100.

What to see in Beijing in 1 day

Qianmen Street. Photo: zhangkaiyv / unsplash.com.

What to see in Beijing in 1 day

  • National Museum of China
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Forbidden City
  • Beihai Park
  • Heaven Temple
  • Yheyuan Palace Complex.

What to see in Beijing in 2 days

To the sights we wrote about above, add

  • Old Yuanming Yuan Palace.
  • Zoo
  • Yabaolu Market.
  • Lulichan Street.
  • Confucius Temple.
  • Beijing TV Tower.

The nearest section of the Great Wall of China is 70 km from Beijing, near Badaling railway station. If you want to see the iconic landmark of China by all means, you will have to sacrifice something in the city.

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