BISROCS 2012 Sites of Interest
The venerated Chinese history has strewn the land of Beijing with sites of cultural and historical interest. Some of them, such as the Great Wall, former Imperial Palace, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, and the ruins of Peking Man at Zhoukoudian, are UNESCO-endorsed world cultural heritage sites. Imperial palaces, mansions, gardens and tombs are epitomes of classical Chinese architecture. Among the massive number of ancient buildings that have remained to this day are quite a few Buddhist monasteries, Taoist temples and Catholic churches, such as Yonghegong Lamasery and Big Bell Temple. There are 120 museums, including Museum of Chinese History and China Art Gallery. Over 100 gardens are open to the public.
The Palace Museum
The 720,000-square-metre Palace Museum, better known as "Forbidden City", was the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing. Built during the 1406-1420 period, it is the largest royal palatial complex in existence in China; ranging from the majestic to the exquisite, they bear witness to a nation in transition. Other tourist attractions on the premises include a huge stone ramp carved with intricate dragon and cloud patterns, Imperial Garden and Nine-Dragon Screen Wall. An immense trove of cultural artifacts and treasures of various dynasties, some of them on display in the Treasure Hall and the ceramics, painting, bronze ware galleries, are reason enough for UNESCO to adopt the Former Imperial Palace as a world cultural heritage site.
The Temple of Heaven
China's largest temple and altar are found in the Temple of Heaven, which is part of a 273 hectare park in Chongwen District today. Built in 1420, it was where Ming and Qing monarchs prayed for good harvests. Worship of Heaven and Earth by emperors, sons of Heaven, has a long history in China. Heaven-Earth worship occupied a conspicuous place in the political life of ancient China. Architectures for rituals usually dominated in the capital cities, representing the most advanced architecture and arts.. Major structures are Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, Imperial Vault of Heaven, Circular Altar, and Abstinence Palace. UNESCO endorsed the Temple of Heaven as a world cultural heritage site in December 1998.
The Great Wall
As an emblem of Chinese civilization, a cultural phenomenon of world caliber, and another UNESCO-endorsed world cultural heritage site, the 6350 km Great Wall was in China's feudal years a mammoth defense bulwark that serpentines its way across mountains and valleys in the northern part of the country. The Great Wall came under construction in the 7th century BC. But it was Qinshihuang, the founding emperor of the Qin, who brought it to completion. Repeated extensions were done in later dynasties until the Ming. The 600-year-old Badaling Fortification in Yanqing County in northwest Beijing is representative of Ming sections of the Great Wall. The Great Wall looks equally breathtaking at such sections as Jinshanling, Mutianyu and Simatai.
The Summer Palace
The Summer Palace was so named because it served as the summer residence of the imperial households. Situated in the western outskirts, it consists of the Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake with a total area of 290 hectares. Centered on the Tower of Buddhist Incense the Summer Palace consists of over 3,000 structures including pavilions, towers, bridges, and corridors. The Summer Palace can be divided into four parts: the court area, front-hill area, front-lake area, and rear-hill and back-lake area. It is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as "An outstanding expression of the creative art of Chinese landscape garden design, incorporating the works of humankind and nature in a harmonious whole."
Peking Opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It has now become a symbol of Beijing's tradition. The actors and actresses wear elaborate and colorful costumes and use the skills of speech, song, dance, and combat in movements that are symbolic and suggestive. The different colors of painted faces represent different characters and personality.