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China Vacations

Exploring Beijing
By Seif Kamel

Beijing is a vibrant group of district and neighborhoods.  It is also a city of contradictions and transitions. Many structures were built in Beijing for the Olympic Games of 2008.

The city has a lot of narrow ancient lanes that are starting to disappear with the number of towers that are being constructed in the city lately. Beijing has also started receiving a large number of tourists who spend their China Vacations.   

Recently a survey proved that Beijing hosts more than 40% of the skyscrapers of the whole world.  Beijing has a long history as well. This fact made the city the house of many important remarkable historical monuments and temples.  Many travelers who enjoy their tours in China must pay a visit to Beijing.

The Temple of Lama

This is the most visited religious sites in Beijing and one of the most important Buddhist temples in the city.  This masterpiece of Tibetan art has five major halls and numerous galleries hung with finely detailed painted cloth.

The whole complex is decorated with carved or cast Buddha images all guarded with monks, or the Lamas that are dressed in brown robes. Many custom tours to China would include a visit to the Temple of Lama.

This structure was actually built to become the palace of Prince Yonghe and it was transformed into a temple a few decades afterwards when the prince became the third Qing Emperor in 1723.

The temple has witnessed it most glorious periods during the reign of the successor of Yonghe, the Emperor Qianlong and it used to host more than 500 monks.

Among the most magnificent sections of the temple is the Hall of Heavenly Kings that is full of statues of Maitreya, the future Buddha and Weitou, the Chinese Guardian of Buddhism.

There is the Pavilion of Ten Thousand Fortunes that hosts a huge statue of Buddha that is 26 meters and carved out of one piece of wood. This is the section that is most visited by travelers who spend their holidays in China.

Although all cameras are not allowed inside the temples and halls, the outer facades of the structures are quite notable.

Tiananmen Square

This is the largest and one of the most famous public squares in the whole world. Tiananmen Square owes a little to the many grand designs of the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasty as it actually owe it all to the dynasty of Mao Zedong. Actually he was buried near this square that has become a popular touristic attraction added to all travel packages in China.

It was actually in the Tiananmen Square where Mao declared the establishment of the People's Republic of China in 1st of October 1949.

The square today is full of tourists, families, children playing, and many sightseers. Many tourists who travel to China come visit the square at dawn time to view the guards raise the flag of China.

Usually the Tiananmen Square is the first place the tourists who travel to China visits in the first day of their tour to China. This square is the ultimate symbol of Modern China

At the peak of the Cultural Revolution, hundreds of thousands of Red Guards crowded in the square and chanted the name of Moa with his red book in their hands.

In 1989, hundreds of student demonstrators were killed by security troops during a part of the pro democracy protests. Moving around the square, the guests will get the chance to view a portrait of Moa, a man who influenced the people a lot during his life and even after his death.

Thee decades after his death, Moa still evokes radically different feelings among the Chinese. Was he a romantic poet and a symbol of love? Or was he a monster who caused the death of millions of people? The only fact that we know is that he made the square one of the most popular sections in the country that most travelers in group tours must visit

The Confucius Temple

This tranquil temple was rebuilt and had many sections added for a period that exceeds eight centuries. The temple was actually restored once again in 2006 and now it is combined with the Imperial Academy that was once the most important educational institute in China.

The most remarkable features of the Confucius Temple are the cemetery of stone tablets standing in the main courtyard of the temple.  On some of them, the guest can barely see the names of the scholars who have passed imperial exams in different periods of history. Although this temple is not usually included in many tours to China, a visit is always recommended.

There is also the Riyong Emperors lecture hall, surrounded by a circular moat although the building is rectangular. This was where the emperors once used to give lectures concerning the classic literature and sciences.

The Imperial Academy, located next to the temple, was established in 1306 as a place to give trainings to the highest governmental officials. Nowadays, the academy would be a glorious place to study with its red coated walls and gold tiled roofs.

The Imperial Academy had a bad reputation, especially during the Ming Dynasty, for imposing harsh disciplines on scholars who studied the Confucian Classics.

The Drum Tower

Until the 1920s, this tower used to host 24 drums that acted as Beijing timepiece. Unfortunately, all of these drums were destroyed except for one drum that is always witnessing restoration and repairs.

The King Kubali Khan has built the first drum here in 1272. The guests can climb to the top of the recent day tower that was built in 1747 and have magnificent views over the city.  The tower has a huge 63 tons Bronze bell that is quite imposing. Many tourists who travel to China pay a visit to the Drum Tower.  

The Temple of Earth Park

Inside this park, during the 16th century, the emperors used to present offerings to the God of Earth in the Hall of Deities. This would be the most marvelous avenue for an afternoon outing with the family or friends

The ancient Granary of Nanxincang
This is the oldest surviving granary in China and it was built in the 15th century in the period between 1403 and 1424 and now it has become the latest entertainment places in Beijing hosting three art galleries, a teahouse, several pubs, and restaurants.

This structure that was built 10 years before the Forbidden City was among the 300 granaries that were spread all over the area during the imperial times and now serves as one of the most favorite night spots in the city.

The Donghuamen Night Market

This market is rather the best place to take photographs of different types of Chinese food.  Many hawkers sell fish and different foods. This is besides insects and other types of food that would be hard to indentify.

Most of this street food is usually safe to eat as long as it is served hot. This market makes a wonderful walk with great photography opportunity.  Many affordable tours to China include visits to the various markets of the country.

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