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Home >> China City Guide >> Beijing >> Beijing City - China Peking travel guide and tour


Beijing location
Forbidden City
Beijing Opera
Temple of Heaven
Great wall

A conurbation of nearly 14 million people, Beijing is China's capital and one of the four centurally adininistered cities in the country, the other three being Chongqing, Shanghai and Tianjin. The city is also China's political, cultural centre as well as a transport and international exchange hub.

Beijing is an ancient city well known in the world for her long history and rich culture. Her history dates back to more than 3,000 years. Half a million years ago, in the time of Peking Man, the remote ancestor of Chinese nation, already lived at Zhoukoudian Village 48 kilometres, southwest of Beijing.

Beijing was first seen in historical records in the name of Ji, meaning thistle. The slave state came into existence with Ji as the centre was called Yah (a powerful independent state at that time). After several hundred years, the State of Yan rose in the North and became one of the seven powers (the other six powers being Qin, Zhao, Qi, Han, Wei, and Chu) contending for hegemony in the Central Plains. According to historical records, Ji, the capital of the State of Yan, was the richest city at that time. Ji was exactly the predecessor of the city of Beijing.

The city of Ji had an advantageotts geographical position for development. It is situated in a small plain surrounded on three sides by mountains and to the south lies a broad expanse of rolling plain, the vast North China Hain. Among the mountain ranges as her back there are a number of natural gorges leading to the south and the north, such as, Nankou (Southern Entry) Pass, Juyongguan (Dwelling-in- Harmony) Pass, Shangguan Pass (demolished during 1522-1566 of the Ming Dynasty), and Badaling (Eight Prominent Peaks) at the northwestern corner leading to the Mongolian Plateau; Gubeikou Pass at the northeastern comer leading to the vast Song-Liao (Northeast) Plain. In this way, the city of Ji became a communication hub and a strategic point between mountains and plains and between the south and the north as well.

When Emperor Qinshihuang (259-210 BC, reigned 247-210 BC) of the Qin Dynasty established the first united feudal dynasty in China after annexing six different states in 221 BC, Ji was the place where the government of Guaagyang Prefecture was located. Thus Ji turned out to be a place of strategic importance of the Qin court to resist against the invasion of other tribes in Northeast China. Owing to the fact the city of Ji was abundant in produce and advanced in the ways of production and that it was located between the Han nationality and various national minorities in the Northeast, during the period of nearly 1,000 years from the Qin Dynasty to the end of Tang Dynasty, Ji gradually developed into a trade centre of exchange between the south and the north and a big city in the North and an advanced base of the ruler of the central government to pacify the Northeast. In February611, Emperor Yangdi (569-618, reigned 604-618) of the Sui Dynasty (581-618) sailed after opening the Grand Canal, in "dragon boat" with hundreds of officials and over 1,000 followers from Jiangdu (present-day Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province) to the city of Ji after over 50 days of voyage. In April 645, Li Shimin (599-649, reigned 626-649 ), Emperor Taizhong of the Tang Dynasty (618- 907), staged a rally south of Youzhou (city of Ji) to pledge resolution before an east expedition to Gaoli ( former name for Korea). He returned victoriously in November and built Minahongsi Temple (today's Fayuansi--Temple of the Source of Law--Temple outside Xuanwumen Gate) south of the city to hold a memorial ceremony for those killed in battle. During the time of the end of the Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties, Qidan, one of the national minorities in the Northeast, occupied the city of Ji, changed its name into Nanjing (Southern Capital) and made it the secondary capital of the Liao court (916-1125) to confront the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). Not much construction was donein this period. In the 12th century, the regime set up by Nuzhen people replaced the Liao regime and occupied Youzhou (Remote Prefecture ). They moved their capital from the Songhua River to Youzhou, changing its name into Zhongdu (Central Capital), and went in for large-scale construction at the site of the city of Nanjing of the Liao court according to the scale of Bianliang ( today's Kaifeng, Henan Province), capital of the Northern Song Dynasty. The newly built Zhongdu .had three layers of city walls (the perimeter of the city wall of Zhongdu being 32.5 kilometres) and twelve city gates. The royal city in the middle had nine rows of palaces, including 36 halls. To the west of the city several garden villages for the amusement of imperial families were built on the basis of the landscape. At that time, Zhongdu developed into a centre of commerce, a big, flourishing city.

The Mongolian cavalry destroyed the imperial city. It is said that the fire continued for over a month. Before the Jin court extended the Zhongdu, and the people of Northern Song Dynasty called the city Yanjing. After occupying Zhongdu, the Mongolian set up "Yanshan Lu" (Yanshan Area). The name Yanjing has been using till now.

In 1260 Kublai Khan (1215-1294, reigned 1260-1294), the grandson of Genghis Khan (1162-1227), came to Yanjing from Helm on the Mongolian Plateau, and lived in a picturesque temporary palace in the northeastern suburbs (now Beihai Park). Before long, Kublai Khan decided to make Yanjing the capital and built the historically illustrious city of Dadu or Great Capital ( the city wall of Dadu being 28.55 kilometres in circumference) and adopted the new title of the reigning dynasty "yuan."

Construction of Dadu of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) established the layout of the city of Beijing of today. On the basis of the conception of the construction of imperial capital of ancient China, namely, with the court in the front, market in the rear, ancestral temple on the left and temple to the god of the land on the right, and integrating construction with geographical conditions, the city so built combined the magnificent palatial structures and elegant scenery, and with the imperial city as the centre, on both sides of the south-north central axis were built fifty residential areas separated by streets running from east to west. This opened up a very important page in the history of urban construction in Chins.

One hundred years after construction of Dadu of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398, reigned 1368-1398 ), founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), declared himself emperor at Nanjing (south of the Yangtze River) and made the city the capital.

Early Ming famous general Xu Da (1332-1385) stormed and captured Dadu and changed its name into Beiping in the early Ming Dynasty ( Northern Peace). Zhu Di (1360-1424, reigned 1403-1424 ), the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, Prince Yan, became emperor in 1403 after he ousted his nephew, the second emperor of the Ming Dynasty. He changed the name of the city into Beijing in 1403 and moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing in 1421 after the completion of the Forbidden City. It took 14 years for him to rebuild the model of Nanjing and open up the southem city, forming the layout of Beijing today. In 1564, an outer city was built in the south of the original city, thus forming the outer city, and inner city in Beijing. The inner city wall was 6,650 metres from east to west, 5,350 metres from north to south, and its perimeter being 24 kilometres with 9 gates-Zhengyang Gate ( Front Gate ), Chongwenmen, Xuanwumen, Dongzhimen ( Chongrenmen ), Chaoyangmen ( Qihuamen ), Xizhimen (Heyimen), Fuehengmen (Pingzemen), Andingmen and Deshengmen. The outer city was 7,950 metres from east to west, 3,100 metres from north to .south and 22 kilometres in circumference, with 7 gates--Xibianmen, Guangningmen (formerly called Guangningmen and Emperor Daogang's name happened to he "Minning." Under feudal etiquette, the mention of the emperor's name was a taboo. Therefore, it was changed into Guang'anmen), You'anmen, Yongdingmen, Zuo'anmen, Guangqumen, and Dongbianmen. The Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) entirely inherited the palaces of the Ming Dynasty and was concentrated its main force on the construction of two temporary palaces in the western suburbs. The unrivalled Yuanmingyuan (Park of Perfection and Brightness or the Old Summer Palace) was destroyed in 1860 by the Anglo-French Allied Forces; the admired Summer Palace became a scenic spot for tourists in Beijing.

Since 1949, Beijing has become the capital of the People's Republic of China. This ancient, young, solemn, and yet charming famous city of culture draws millions of domestic and overseas tourists all the year round. In the modernization programme of reform and opening-up to the outside world, Beijing has been attracting worldwide attention.

Today, Beijing is the political and cultural centre and the home of the greatest repository of monuments from imperial China. The city encompasses 17,020 square kilometres with a population currently pushing 14 million. It administers 16 districts end 2 counties.

Beijing has a continental climate of temperate zone with four seasons distinctly divided. In summer, July is quite hot with a daily average temperature of 35.8 12; in winter, January is quite cold with a daily average temperature of - 4.8 12. In Beijing, autmnn is characterized by clear sky and crisp air as well as beautiful scenery, so the city is a magnet for visitors both home and abroad.

The 2008 Beijng Olympic Games 2008

Just as the Olympic Games will foster global interest in the charm of the Chinese ancient capital of Beijing, visitors and athletes from around the world also will have the opportunity to experience the splendour of five other Chinese cities chosen as sub- venues for the 2008 Olympic Games. The 2008 Olympic Games will take place in 37 competition venues, with another 58 venues provided for training. Qingdao in East China would feature a sailing centre, and soccer matches would be played in East China's Shanghai, North China's Tianjin and Qinhuangdso and Northeast China's Shenyang. The choice of these venue sites, design and construction of the venues will best present the concept of a "Green Olympics," "High-tech Olympics" and "People's Olympics." With facilities already under construction, the five cities, each with unique scenic attractions, are ready to provide enjoyable and safe accommodations for Olympic guests in 2008.

Beijing Travel Attractions
Badaling Great Wall
Forbidden City
Tian'anmen Square
Summer Palace
Temple of Heaven
Ming Tombs
Mutianyu Great wall
Beijing Hutong
Beijing Roasted Duck
Yonghegong Temple
Beihai Park
Beijing Zoo
Beijing Opera
Confucian Temple
Jinshanling Greatwall
Simatai Great Wall
Fragrant Hills
Shichahai & Hutong
Tanzhe Temple
White Cloud Temple
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