Beijing is a world-famous ancient cultural city, the capital of China, as well as China's political, economic and cultural center as well as a center for international communications. Roughly 500,000 years ago the land was the home of Peking Man. Beijing was established as a city in 1045 BC. For nearly 800 years, Beijing was a capital city - the provisional capital of the Liao Dynasty and the capital of the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. Bill Clinton, the former USA president, once said: To equate Beijing and New York, Beijing only needs 100 years. While New York at least needs 2000 years. Beijing is also a young and international mega-city. What all most-developed cities have can be discovered in Beijing as well, including the intangible creativity and the seeable vitality. In summary, Beijing is a city mingled with tradition and modern life.
Beijing is located in the plain of northern China, partially covered by high mountains in north, west and northwest. The city is divided into 18 districts and counties, covering a total area of 16,800 square kilometers and a population of 11 million. Surprisingly, Beijing is one of the few major cities in China that does not lie on a major river. Instead, water is supplied from two reservoirs - Guanting Reservoir and Miyun Reservoir.
Beijing belongs to the area of semi-humid warm continental monsoon climate. It is windy and dry in spring, hot and rainy in summer, cool and shiny in fall and freezing in winter. So early October is indeed a nice time to visit Beijing. It is not too cold or too warm, high at most 60 degrees F in the morning or evening, warming up to at least 80 degrees F at noon.
Beijing is the city that has the largest number of World Cultural Heritage Sites in the world, also in China. Currently, China has 38 World Cultural Heritage Sites and 6 in Beijing, that is, The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, the Temple of Heaven, "Peking Man" Site at Zhoukoudian and the Ming Tombs.
Beijing has rich tourism resources. The number of scenic spots available is more than 200, including the world's largest imperial palace-the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven for national-fortune praying ceremony, royal park - Beihai Park, royal garden - the Summer Palace. The Badaling (八达岭)-section Great Wall, Mutianyu (慕田峪)-section Great Wall, Simatai (司马台)-section Great Wall as well as the world's largest Siheyuan (四合院) - Prince Gong Mansion are also the golden destinations for travel. In total, Beijing has 3553 cultural-relic sites, no exception to 60 state-level sites and 264 municipal-level sites. The ancient architecture, imperial gardens, temples and monasteries mingle with tall buildings, modern gardens and green patches in Beijing show rapid change with each passing day.
An authorized American architect just said: On the earth human's most magnificent single project may be the Beijing Royal City which designed as domicile of emperor to release this place is the universal center. The whole city is deeply immersed in the criteria of ceremony and rituals. Its remarkable and miraculous graphics design presents us abundant ideas and inspirations for current urban construction.
Forbidden City. The Title of the Forbidden City is concerned with China's ancient philosophy and traditional astronomical theory. Chinese people follow the principle of the Heaven-Human Unity or Heaven-Human Interaction. Hence the Forbidden City is said to build via modeling the legendary Heaven Palace. In ancient astronomy, the fixed stars are categorized into three kinds (in Chinese "三垣"). They cycle around 28 Star Mansions (星宿), and the Ziweiyuan (in Chinese "紫微垣"), which, currently, is entitled Polaris, is located in the center of the heaven. It is the center of the star mansions. Zijincheng (Forbidden City, in Chinese "紫禁城") has the same meaning as it to show the Imperial Palace is the heart or center of humankind. Jin (禁) means this place is exclusively for Emperor. It is incomparably holy, so the commoners are forbidden to come in and stay in.
The number of rooms in Forbidden City is 9,999, and the number of bronzy doornails on each door is also 9 in both horizontal and vertical counting. This strange figure is also linked with ancient people's understanding to digit. The ancient people think "9" is the largest digit and Emperor on earth is also the largest. So they are in agreement for superiority. Besides, the same tone of "9" as Chinese Character "久" jointly means eternality or permanence, which further indicates the territory and rule of Emperor are everlasting .
The idea of Confucianism is also deeply shown in the titles of buildings of the Forbidden City. For instance, the Chinese characters such as "仁" (benevolence), "和" (peace), "中" (centralization), "安" (stability) are all on behalf of the essence and core of Confucian ideas and highlighting the traditional ideology of Confucianism.
The residential places of the Emperor and Empress titled Qianqing Palace (乾清宫), Jiaotai Hall (交泰殿) and Kunning Palace (坤宁宫) are also connected with the Book of Changes, one of the five classical theoretical books in Confucianism School."乾" symbolizes "Heaven", representing "Male", "坤" symbolizes "Earth", representing "Female", "泰" in middle means "safety and smoothness". The whole meaning is the harmony and stability of Heaven and Earth. It also indicates the harmonious relations between the Emperor and the Empress. Plus cleanness, honesty and quietness, the imperial life will be much more admirable and beautiful.
The color of the Forbidden City has the profound meaning. The yellow colored-glazed tiles used in the Forbidden City. The indoor color is also mostly yellow. The layout of Qiangqing Palace is more prominent. It comes from the Five-Element Theory in The Book of History, also one of the five classical theoretical books in Confucianism School. The ancient people think this world is comprised of five elements, namely, Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, and Dust. Such five elements help one another and also disturb one another. It shows the changeable world. The yellow symbolizes dust, and dust is the root for all lives' growth, in other words, it means the Emperor is the root of people's life. The only building, as the royal library titled Wenyuange (文渊阁 in Chinese), has the black colored-glazed tiles, because, in Five-Element Theory, black symbolizes water for fire-resistance. It fully shows the elaborate design.
In 1406, Emperor Yongle of Ming Dynasty started to build the Forbidden City. There were 100,000 top-class craftsmen and 1 million labor-workers were employed for building this unparalleled royal palace group, and totally, 15 years were spent for palace building. It is not changing a lot, although it underwent many times of rebuilding and extension. The Forbidden City is an architectural group mainly made of bricks and woods. The raw materials were the best at that time. The bricks for city-wall building is called Clear-Slurry Brick (澄浆砖), which was made in a complicated and secret procedure. The size of this special brick is larger than others'. It is 48 centimeters long, 24 centimeters wide and 12 centimeters thick. The weight of each brick is 24 kilograms. There are 12,000,000 bricks in total used for royal-wall building. The ground bricks of the Forbidden City are called Golden Bricks, which are made elaborately. It has the golden color and loud-clear sound when striking. The total number of the ground bricks surpasses 100,000,000. The material for conglutination among the bricks and stone-plates was also elaborately selected. Such bond-material was made of cooked sticky rice and fresh egg white, and it is strongly sticky and beautiful in shape. It is called Chinese-style concrete. The woods were some from near counties and some from southern China transported via the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. The colored-glazed tiles were all pre-made and the designers fixed its size and carvings according to royal orders. Tens of thousands of giant stones are also used for the Forbidden City. The sculptures and statues in the Forbidden City are first-rank representatives of Chinese arts. The treasures in it are rare and invaluable. The Forbidden City is Chinese largest museum.
Peking Opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatrical art which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It appeared in the late 18th century and became fully developed and recognized by the mid-19th century. This form of opera was extremely popular in the Qing Dynasty court and has come to be taken as one of the cultural treasures of China. Major performance troupes are based in Beijing and Tianjin in the north, and Shanghai in the south. The art form is also welcomed in Taiwan, where it is known as Guoju (国剧, national opera). It has also spread to other countries such as the United States and Japan.
Chinese Acrobatics. It can be called a national art, too. It is one of the art forms most popular among the Chinese people. Whether you are old or young, educated or illiterate, you can appreciate it as long as you can. There is no language barrier and cultural border. The history of acrobatics in China can be traced back to Neolithic times. Progress in Chinese acrobatics was very prominent during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), when performances were often held at the imperial court, since then acrobatics became well-renowned worldwide via performances presented along the Silk Road. Chinese Acrobatics have developed into a kind of performance art. Chinese acrobatics has won acclaim and praise from audiences both at home and abroad, and many gold medals have been won in World Acrobatic Festivals in recent years. Cycling with Bowl Piling, Lion Dance and Vocal imitation are the most famous programs. In Beijing, Beijing Tiandi Theatre and Beijing Chaoyang Theatre are most famous for acrobatics performance.
Beijing Cuisine (京菜, in Chinese )Beijing Cuisine is a cooking style in Beijing. It is also officially famous as Mandarin cuisine. Since Beijing was the national capital for centuries, its cuisine has been impressed by cooking traditions from all over China, but Shandong cuisine has given the greatest influence on Beijing cuisine. In turn, Beijing cuisine has also obviously influenced other cuisines, especially the Chinese imperial cuisine and the Chinese aristocrat cuisine. "The Emperor's Kitchen" (御膳房 in Chinese) was a term specialized for the cooking places in the Forbidden City, The authoritative chefs all over the country nearly were all Royal Kitcheners. Thousands of Kitchener from the different parts of China showed their best cooking skills to please royal families and officials. Hence it is hard to specify the actual origin of Beijing cuisine. However, some conclusions on Beijing cuisine can be generalized as follows:
Original foods in Beijing are often snacks rather than formal courses, and they are typically sold by little shops or street vendors. They emphasize on dark soy paste, sesame paste, sesame oil, and scallions, and fermented tofu which is often served as a condiment. The different way of frying is often used for cooking in Beijing. The food in Beijing catering trade is mainly represented by meat dishes. For example mutton dishes are very popular today, such as stewed mutton; instant-boiled mutton, quick-fried mutton tripe, and fried dumplings with minced mutton. In the south, rice is much more popular as the main staple of the Chinese diet, while in the north, represented by Beijing, wheat products such as noodles, flat breads, dumplings and steamed buns are as popular as or more popular than rice as the staple. For example one can find Jiaozi (small boiled dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetables) in many places throughout China, but if you travel to Beijing, you may find Jiaozi is more popular and welcome than it in southern China.
Beijing life. Beijing life is different from other cities. Beijing streets are relatively free of litter, although Beijing air is very dusty and polluted. Many people recycle all sorts of packages for daily life. Beijing is extremely overpopulated. Anywhere you are, the man is crowded and busy with walking and calling in cell-phones. Beijing is a haggler's shopping paradise. Except for fixed price items in department stores, every thing else is negotiable. Flea markets are everywhere offering goods that are not easily available in the US at unbelievably low prices. The variety of cuisines or snacks generally hovers in new-comer's mind. Since many food vendors prepare their meals on the open sidewalk, you can observe how they practice their trades easily. You would be particularly fascinated by how they pulled dough into evenly sized noodles.
Beijing people lead an attractive life. Usually at nightfall or daybreak, on squares of parks, many senior residents exercise the shadow-boxing or some simple Kungfu together for keeping-fit. They wear the white long traditional garments, which are perhaps made of the expensive silk. Some senior ladies carry the fans and some carry the swords. They laugh and practise jointly in respective groups. Beijing senior men like Peking Opera. They often stay together for singing and practising leisurely in public after morning or evening exercise, though they are not professional. Some excellent performance and singing often bring the passers-by or on-lookers' applause and cheering successively. Besides many local people are the Chinese-chess-playing experts, and some Chinese famous professional chess-players come from them. They are even able to play chess all day long for leisure under trees or at street-side where are quiet. Chinese-Chess playing in Beijing, even in China is elegant but universal. It is quietly beneficial for intelligence-cultivation, so it is more welcome among the intelligent. What's more, Beijing residents like raising birds. This is a long-standing tradition in Beijing folk life. The senior often tote a birdcage when they are walking in leisure.
Beijing people are very courteous and helpful. Many residents tried to learn a little spoken English for welcoming foreign guests. They are hospitable and willing to talk with foreigners in English. People unquestionably believe Beijing will become the tourism paradise for China-lovers during and after Olympic-Games period.
The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, Officially known as the Games of the 29th Olympiad, was staged from August 8, 2008, to August 24, 2008 with the opening ceremony beginning at 08:08:08 pm at the Beijing National Stadium. Some events were held outside Beijing, that was football (soccer) in Qinhuangdao (秦皇岛), Shanghai, Shenyang (沈阳) and Tianjin (天津), equestrian in Hong Kong and sailing in Qingdao (青岛).
The 29th Olympic games were granted to Beijing after an exhaustive ballot of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 13, 2001. The official logo, titled "Dancing Beijing," features a classical calligraphic character 京, meaning capital, emphasizing the host city. The mascots of Beijing 2008 are the five Fuwa (福娃, in Chinese), representing five colors of the Olympic rings respectively. The Olympic slogan, One World, One Dream, calls on the world to unite in the Olympic spirit. Athletes competed in 302 events in 28 sports; just one event more than was on the schedule of the Athens games of 2004. Earlier in 2007, former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had said that he believed that the Beijing games would be "the best in Olympic history." In 2008, the current IOC-president Jacques Rogge said: "Without any doubt, the bid of Beijing was the best. It offered something that no other country could: bringing sport and Olympism to one fifth of mankind. That was the reasoning behind awarding the Games to Beijing."
Beijing educational system. As elsewhere in China, Beijing Educational System consists of six years of universal primary education and six years of secondary education. In addition, both the government and a number of private groups operate nurseries and kindergartens for younger children to make it easier for their mothers to work. The early years of primary education emphasize reading, writing, and arithmetic, with history, geography, and science added in the later years. There are three types of secondary schools: general middle schools, which offer college-preparatory courses; normal schools, which prepare students to attend teacher training colleges; and vocational and technical schools.
Beijing is China's largest higher-education center. At present, more than 80 colleges and universities serve massive education like full-time higher education, part-time vocational training, and elite education like: bachelor education, postgraduate education, PhD education and Post-Doctoral Study. The northwestern edge of the city as home to both Beijing University and Qinghua University, has become a major educational and research district that is also home to the People's University of China, the Central Institute of Nationalities, the Beijing Normal University, the Beijing Chinese Medication University, and the Central Conservatory of Music, as well as institutes specializing in aeronautics, petroleum production, forestry, agriculture, and other fields.
Beijing Economy. It's a prominent side to show Beijing comprehensive development and the resident's life-improvement. According to the latest official report, Beijing residents' average revenue is ranked the third place in China; only lower than people's in Shanghai and Zhejiang Province. Beijing has an all-sided industry system including the traditional heavy industry and new-born high-tech industry. Recently, in order to protect environment and ecological-balance, moreover, for realizing the Green-Olympics Promise in 2008, almost all the highly-polluted factories like the Capital Iron and Steel Company have been moved out. Beijing's high technology industries, dominated by the construction of Zhongguancun Science Technological Center, play a very important role in the development of Beijing's economy. The high-tech industries have been the main driving force of capital's development.
Beijing's transport system.Transportation is well developed in Beijing. The urban bus, subway, airplane, trains and boats are all handily available at any time as long as you need. Beijing traffic is crowded, but there are few traffic accidents in spite of the congestion. Most motorized vehicles are either buses or taxis. They don't move much faster than the bicycles. Taxis in Beijing are very cheap by American standard. Most rides in town don't cost more than US$3. But bus rides cost even less regardless of distance. Bus stop signs list all the stops of each route and recorded messages announce all stops in advance. You can not lose yourself any more when you learn about this.
In urban bus system, the staffs concerned densely receive the foreign-language training for facilitating foreign tourists' travel in Beijing during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The conductors are able to voice the stops in English, and they can speak the simple oral English. Many stops are made in traditional-building style. Beijing traffic is extremely convenient. The taxis and sightseeing bus are also both available. The air-conditioning bus with "8" sign, special double-layer bus with "特" (special) sign and special night-bus for tourism destination are all giving facility to passengers.
Beijing Subway has been intelligentized. On the newly-opened No. 5 subway platforms, the passengers can watch digital TV programs via touching the LCD screens, and in the compartment, they also can watch the same program in the same way. Currently, No.1, No.2, No.13 and No. 5 subway as well as Batong line are all opened. The total distance of subway is up to 142 kilometers with 93 bus stations. As the No.5 subway-line opens, the entire subway network follows the standard price, 2 Yuan for per person. The subway price is the lowest in China. Up to 2015, Beijing will form a 561-kilometer traffic network. It will be longer than it in New York, and become a city with the longest subway-line.
Public Bicycle in Beijing is extensively promoted as the slogan of Green Olympics popularizes among people. Beijing nowadays has become the China's first city to promote the public bicycle for outing. Besides, the traffic vehicles specializing for Olympics are all to be the non-smoking vehicles.
Beijing Capital International Airport is the one of the major international airports in China. It is located in the northeast side of Beijing with the 25.35-kilometer distance from Tian'anmen Square. It is the largest and busiest international airport with the most important status and best equipments in China. Beijing Capital International Airport is also China's most important airport terminal and the center of China's civil airport network when it serves as China's airport base.
Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport is the newest and most multi-functional airport service center that opened in 2008. It is located in the east side of Terminals 1 and 2 with the distance of 25 kilometers from downtown. The total area is 1 million square meters. So far, it is the world's largest single-structure airport terminal. As it is put into use, it serves as the best transport supplier for worldwide passengers. The Times of UK comments it as one of the top-ten largest and most important building projects in the world.
There are 5 big railway stations in Beijing, that is, Beijing Railway Station, Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station, Beijing North Railway Station and Beijing East Railway Station. Beijing Railway Station is located in the south side of street in Jianguomennei. It is one of the ten projects for celebrating the 10th National Day. The layout and design of Beijing Railway Station is featured of innovative idea and traditional architectural style. It was the largest railway station with the best equipments in China in 1990s.
In old folk-say, Beijing was floating to current place. Thanks to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the rice, silk, tea and fruits from southern areas enriched Beijing people's life. The bricks and wood needed for the Forbidden-City building were also transported to Beijing by way of the Grand Canal. If The Great Wall is the solider for guaranteeing inland security and stability, Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal will be the businessman to keep Beijing in prosperity. Nowadays the Great Wall has lose its guarding function and totally become the cultural and historic heritage, while Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is always an dynamic supplier for people's washing, boating and irrigation. It is the old living witness to jointly experience the time-passing with Beijing.
This is Beijing, a changing oriental center in yellow and gold. This is Beijing, a running captain in China and the world.