Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

Beijing sights: 13 best places

Beijing is one of the oldest and most mysterious cities on the planet. Its magnificent imperial palaces and ancient Buddhist temples have an amazingly powerful energy. Here you can touch the greatest secrets of history and feel the true harmony of nature and man. In our article we present the main sights of Beijing , which will be interesting to visit every visitor to China’s capital.

1. Forbidden City


The mysterious Forbidden City is the most appealing attraction in Beijing. It is located in the center of the capital, and for five centuries was the main residence of the powerful rulers of the Chinese Empire. This is the largest palace complex on the planet, numbering several hundred structures. The Forbidden City had libraries, theaters and ceremonial halls in addition to the residence of the emperor and the rooms for his family and concubines. Only members of the imperial family were allowed to enter the Forbidden City, and ordinary residents who entered its territory were subject to the death penalty. The Forbidden City was built in the 15th century in accordance with the art of feng shui: behind the complex were mountains, in the center was the Hall of Supreme Harmony, and the main source of energy for the Qi was the slowly flowing Golden Water River. The Forbidden City in Beijing has a special mystical charm due to the luxurious imperial gardens, secluded pavilions and mysterious sculptures. Nowadays the Forbidden City is open to tourists and anyone can enjoy its grandeur.

2: Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is one of the most beautiful sights in Beijing and impresses with its splendor. It was here that emperors annually prayed to Heaven for a bountiful harvest and prosperity of the state for five centuries. The temple complex consists of several buildings, the main of which have a round shape, as in the ancient Chinese beliefs the circle was the embodiment of the heavenly powers. In the decoration of the walls and roofs of the prayer halls, tiles of blue and blue shades are widely used, symbolizing the color of heaven. On the Altar of Heaven, built of white marble, the rulers made sacrifices. The Altar is interesting because of its unusual acoustic effect: if, standing in the center of the Altar, one says the words of prayer softly, the sound, reflected from the marble slabs, will multiply. The centerpiece of the Temple of Heaven is the Hall of Prayer for a Good Harvest, notable for its imposing size, rich interior decoration, and bright Chinese ornaments.

3. Yunhegung Temple

Yongheggun Temple is one of the most important religious sites in Beijing. It is the most famous Tibetan Buddhist monastery in the Chinese capital. Yongheggun Palace was built in the late 17th century and originally served as the residence of the imperial courtiers. A few decades later, Yongheggun became a monastery where monks from Mongolia and Tibet lived and prayed. The design of the temple harmoniously combines Chinese, Tibetan, and Mongolian styles. Inside, visitors will find impressive depictions of the Four Heavenly Kings as well as numerous statues of Buddha in his various capacities: the Buddha of the Past, the Buddha of the Present, the Buddha of the Future, and the Buddha of Healing. The Yonghegung Temple traditionally hosts Buddhist festivals, ceremonies and festivals, which every visitor to Beijing will be interested in watching.

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4. National Museum of China

Beijing sights

A must-see in Beijing is the National Museum of China. This is the most visited museum in the world! Here you can learn more about the rich history of the Chinese state, which is more than 5000 years old. The collection of the museum has more than half a million valuable exhibits. There are wonderful collections of ancient coins, ceramics, ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy. Museum’s pride is the oldest find on the territory of China – Yuanmou Man, which is about a million years old. The bronze Ding sacrificial tripod, a gilded tiger-shaped label and jade burial costumes also deserve special attention. The museum exhibition covers a huge historical period from Ancient China to the present day.

5. Gunwangfu

One of the most beautiful sights in Beijing is the luxurious Gongwangfu palace and park ensemble, which offers an insight into national Chinese traditions. In the XIX century its owner was a rich Manchurian aristocrat, the Grand Duke of Gong, thanks to which the palace got its name. The magnificent beauty of the garden surrounding the residence is a great place for leisurely strolls. On the territory of the garden you can find a lot of greenery and flowers, elegant compositions made of stones, picturesque ponds, gazebos in the traditional style and a lot of red Chinese lanterns, symbolizing wealth and prosperity. In the Gongwangfu Palace Museum still has an atmosphere of luxury, which each visitor can see for himself. For a full immersion in the mysterious world of Chinese culture you should definitely visit the most iconic attraction of Gongwangfu – working theater, the stage of which regularly hosts performances of Peking opera and Chinese circus artists.

6. Summer Imperial Palace

Beijing sights

You can’t visit Beijing without seeing the Summer Imperial Palace. It is the famous summer residence of the Qing dynasty rulers on the outskirts of Beijing. The Summer Palace reached its peak of prosperity in the second half of the 19th century, during the reign of Empress Cixi, who spent all the money meant for the development of the Chinese navy (a little women’s whim) on the construction of luxurious palaces and pavilions. A large part of the territory of the summer residence is occupied by the picturesque artificial lake Kunming. Along its shore stretches the Changlan Gallery, a long covered passage whose walls contain more than 8,000 paintings illustrating Chinese history, literature, and mythology. On the west side of the gallery is one of Empress Qixi’s favorite resting places, the exquisite Marble Rook Lake Pavilion. Not to be overlooked is the majestic Longevity Hill, on top of which is the Buddhist Temple of the Sea of Wisdom. The unmatched architectural design of the Summer Imperial Palace combined with the amazing beauty of nature will not leave even the most demanding traveler indifferent.

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7. Peace Park

The Peace Park is a fascinating attraction of Beijing, where you can make a fascinating journey around the world in miniature: its territory has many models of famous landmarks from around the world, reduced by 8 times. Here you can see fragments of the Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, the Acropolis in Athens, the Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, Stonehenge, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and many other world-famous architectural structures. Tourists from Russia will be especially pleased to stroll through the miniature Red Square and take a closer look at the Kremlin, the Historical Museum and St. Basil’s Cathedral. After a walk in the Park of Peace you will undoubtedly have a lot of positive emotions and a collection of excellent photos.

8. Beijing Botanical Garden

In the Beijing Botanical Garden you can fully enjoy the beauty and charm of the flora of China and experience the true harmony of nature and man. The Beijing Botanical Garden is home to exotic tropical plants, wild fruit trees, a variety of shrubs, medicinal herbs as well as rare plant species. Among the botanical garden’s most visited sites are the tropical aquatic plants exhibit, the luxurious greenhouse with a rich collection of orchids, the peony garden, and the bonsai garden. Bonsai is the ancient Chinese art of growing ornamental dwarf trees. In the bonsai garden they are presented in large numbers. Here you can also get acquainted with the ancient art of Suiseki and see picturesque compositions made of natural stones. With a variety of greenery, flowers, artificial ponds, graceful bridges and cozy Chinese restaurants, the Beijing Botanical Garden is one of the most popular places to relax in the capital of China.

9. Beijing TV Tower

The Beijing Central Television Tower is one of the ten tallest TV towers on the planet with a height of 405 meters. For tourists the Beijing TV Tower is interesting first of all because of its observation deck at 238 meters. From the bird’s eye view the capital of China will appear before you in all its magnificence, and if you want to see not only Beijing, but also its surroundings – you can use a powerful telescope. After visiting the observation deck it is definitely worth spending a couple of hours in the panoramic rotating restaurant, which is located just below. Here you can enjoy not only the magnificent view from the windows, but also delicious dishes of Chinese and European cuisine. But that’s not all! For the most curious visitors to the Beijing TV Tower, the Underwater World of the Pacific Ocean Oceanarium is located directly below the TV Tower. This is a must-see attraction in Beijing!

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10. Great Bell Temple

The Temple of the Great Bell is among the most iconic Buddhist sites in Beijing. Its main attraction is the Great Bell “Yongle”, which, thanks to its impressive size, is one of the ten largest bells in the world. It was cast in the early 15th century by order of Emperor Zhu Di of the Ming dynasty (the emperor himself commanded to be called Yongle – “Eternal Happiness”). In addition to the Great Bell, the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven, about which we told earlier, were erected on Zhu Di’s initiative. In addition to its sheer size and weight, the Yongle Bell is notable for the fact that it has 230,000 characters engraved on its surface, representing Buddhist sayings of wisdom. The sound level of the giant bell can be compared to that of a jet airplane. You can hear the sound of “Yunle” even at a distance of 50 km from the temple.

11 Confucius Temple

Beijing sights

Founded in the 14th century the Confucius Temple in Beijing has for many centuries served as a place of worship for the thinker and philosopher Confucius, who lived in China in the 6th-5th centuries BC. Confucius became famous as the First Teacher of the Celestial Empire: his philosophy was the main ideology of the Chinese state for two thousand years. The vast grounds of the Confucius Temple consist of three courtyards with many pavilions, halls, gates and places of worship. Of particular note are the stone tablets with the names of the most diligent students of Confucius, the sculptures of the Twelve Philosophers, the stone drums with poems inscribed on them, and the magnificent throne in the palace of the Imperial Harmony. The inimitable atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the temple courtyards is created by the old cypress trees, which are more than five centuries old. To the west of the Confucius Temple is the Imperial Academy, where future officials were once trained, and today its halls host historical and art exhibitions. The Confucius Temple and the Imperial Academy form a unified complex filled with wisdom, inspiration, and harmony.

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12. national Center for the Performing Arts

The huge, futuristic building of the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing is rightfully considered not only a symbol of modern China, but also the embodiment of future technology. The enormous ellipse-shaped dome made of glass and titanium looks especially spectacular thanks to the fact that it is surrounded on all sides by an artificial lake. Construction of the building was timed to coincide with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and its author was the French architect Paul André. One of his genius ideas is that the main entrance to the building goes through an underwater tunnel, forcing visitors to forget their everyday routine and immerse themselves in the wonderful world of beauty. The National Center for the Performing Arts has three main halls: a concert hall, a theater and an opera house. You can also visit themed art exhibitions, relax in a café or read in the library. The National Center for the Performing Arts is one of the most impressive sights in Beijing, which is sure to be appreciated by connoisseurs of high art.

13. Beijing Zoo

Beijing Zoo is a wonderful place in Beijing for tourists to see exotic Chinese animals that are rarely seen in the zoos we are used to seeing in Europe. The most popular inhabitant of the Beijing Zoo, of course, is the panda, a kind of symbol of the Chinese state. Other unusual animals include the Manchurian tiger, the Tibetan yak, the Mongolian horse, and the Sichuan golden short-legged monkey. Birds in the Beijing Zoo are also represented in great variety: pelicans, pink flamingos, kites and toucans can be seen here. The Beijing Oceanarium, located in the zoo, is extremely popular. It is famous for its ocean theater that regularly hosts fascinating shows with dolphins and sea lions. Beijing Zoo is one of the most famous attractions in China’s capital, a visit that will be of interest to both children and adults.

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

The best place to start your sightseeing in China is in the capital. Tian-An-Min Square impresses with its monolithic monuments and the mysterious Forbidden City. Popular tourist destinations include the Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace . Beijing combines the traditional and modern aspects of life of its citizens – the ancient narrow streets of the “hutongs” are in contrast to the Olympic Park or the modern hotels and restaurants.

Beijing's Landmarks - Photo 2

Cultural and iconic places in Beijing

Getting acquainted with the huge city can take several stages. At one stage you should visit the Forbidden City . In ancient times, only the emperor and his entourage could enter this part of the city. Violators of the ban were immediately executed. In modern Beijing this architectural complex of about 1000 ancient buildings allows you to plunge into the world of power and wealth of the emperors.

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Beijing's Famous Places of Culture - Photo 3

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

Also worth seeing is the Temple of Heaven, which was reconstructed for the Beijing Olympics (2008). It was formerly a place where rituals were performed to attract bountiful harvests.

Beijing's Famous Places of Culture - Photo 4

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

The complex of temples and palaces with lakes and bridges for the emperor’s rest, called the Summer Palace, is also worth a visit for the traveler. This huge park is designated by UNESCO as a “masterpiece of Chinese landscape design” – the gardens, the recreational park, and the enormous artificial lake are striking. It was created by 100,000 workers at the same time.

Remarkable Cultures in Beijing. Photo 5.

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

Of course, the “new” wonder of the world, the Great Wall of China , deserves special attention when you visit Beijing. For many years the Great Wall of China has been one of the most striking symbols of the country. Its history starts in IV century B.C. when the construction of the first segments started. Construction of the wall continued until the 16th century, taking more than two million lives (according to experts) during this period.

Spectacular Beijing sights, symbols and cultural sites in Beijing.

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

In ancient times the wall served a protective function – it deterred attacks by warlike tribes in northern China. Nowadays it is a place for quiet contemplation of fabulous scenery. The section of the Great Wall of China called Badaling is located at the closest distance to Beijing (it was the first to be freely accessible). This section is the most popular among tourists – millions of people travel there every year.

Spectacular Beijing sights, symbols and cultural sites in Beijing.

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

A slightly less popular but even more picturesque stretch is Jinshanlin, for a quiet holiday. It even has areas untouched by restorers from the 16th century.

Beijing's Sites of Culture and Signs - Photo 8

Cultural and Landmark Sites in Beijing

In Beijing you can stay in hotels. For example, Aman Summer Palace is located in one of the most chic places in Beijing. It offers rooms in the old style, as well as private entrance to the territory of the Summer Palace. The hotel gives you a chance to fully immerse yourself in the culture of China.

The more affordable The Haoyuan Guesthouse is located in the former home of a wealthy banker. Its rooms are decorated in traditional Chinese style. It is in a quiet and peaceful location, yet a 20-minute walk from Tian-An-Min Square. The courtyard of the hotel has an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.

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