Visitors to Beijing are often surprised at how little remains of the past empires other great capitals of the world, most of them in existence for a much shorter period than Beijing, often possess a grandeur and style that reflect their illustrious past. But in China relatively few historic buildings have survived the wars that have swept across the nation for centuries. Beijing, along with other important cities in countless armies. As a result; most of the old buildings that remain are from recent dynasties.
Beijing’s heart is the old Forbidden City and its center, Tian an Men Square. Here the old power structure and the new sit side by side. It is here that millions of people gather for rallies and demonstrations, a sobering reminder of the vast population of this nation and its potential strength. But there are happier celebrations here too; gay and Colorful affairs with people dancing in the streets, banging drams, and clashing cymbals.
Beijing s artery is Chang An Boulevard, ruling east-west through the heart of the city. It is flanked on either fide by modern buildings conveying no hint of Old China. Yet within a block or two you will come across tracts of tiny gray houses, the skyline broken here and there by a factory or a block of apartments.
Beijing is a city of bicycles here are millions of them. As the vast population cycle its way to and from work, the city is alive with the metallic ring of bicycle bells.
The struts off the main thoroughfare are thronged with people clad in blue or gray Map suits, the women often wearing brightly colored scarfs or jackets. The crowds are orderly and good natured, and harmony seems to prevail. You may walk in the streets with perfect safety, although you may draw curious stares from the Chinese citizens around you. Beijing was once a walled city. There was a wall around the Forbidden City, one around the Imperial City, another around what was known as the Tartar City, and yet another around the southern portion known as the Chinese City. Most of the walls are gone now, having fallen into ruin over the year or demolished by the new regime to make way for roads. Most of the old gates are gone, too, but you will get an impression of their grandeur when you s~ the famous Tlan An Men Gate and the beautifully restored Qian Men Gate, each standing at opposite ends of the Square of Heavenly Peace. In your travels you will occasionally catch a glimpse of a pert of the old wall or one of the few remaining towers still standing-all in a dilapidated state, but a re minder of the pas~ splendor of Beijing.
You could spend days exploring the old Forbidden City; it was for over 500 years the center of imperial power in China. Then there is the magnificent Temple of Heaven, the most f~mous in all China and an architectural wonder, Bei Hai Lake with its dagoba-capped island, and the woods of Coal Hill Park.
The most exciting excursion of all is to the Great Wall, the only man-made structure mid to be visible from outer space. Its construction was a remarkable achievement and a monument to the threat that China has faced fur thousands of years: invasion from the north. Even today this for persists. When you visit the Great Wall you will be seeing an object that has inspired the curiosity of people around the world for ages.
Then there are the majestic Ming Tombs, some restored but most splintering into ruin in a gentle area of hills and mountains not far from the Great Wall.
A visit to Beijing is not restricted to sightseeing. You will have the opportunity to indulge yourself in the capital of Chinese cuisine. Beijing’s restaurants are world renowned, and they will prepare sumptuous banquets that you will long remember. Then there are evening entertainments such as Chinese opera, Chinese and Western theater, music and dance, concerts, the ballet, the.circus, acrobatic troupes, sporting events, and the movie.