Beijing is the capital city of the people’s Republic of China and the second-most populous city in the country after Shanghai. It’s an enormous city that combines traditional palaces and temples with modern skyscrapers and structures.
It’s is one of the most important cities in the world and is home to the most Fortune Global 500 companies on the planet. It’s also one of the oldest cities with a history of over 3,000 years. It was the most populous city in the world for nearly the entire second Millennia A.D. as well.
Below you can discover the best things to do in Beijing and learn some of the most interesting facts about them.
1. Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is arguably one of the best-recognized landmarks in the world. It was built over the course of multiple centuries, a process that started as early as the 7th century B.C. The main purpose of this immense fortification was to protect the northern part of ancient Chinese states and Imperial China from invaders.
Even though there are multiple spots you can visit this 20,000 kilometers (12,000 miles)-long wall, the most popular sections are those located near Beijing. These are also some of the most recent parts of the wall as they were built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
Read more on Listerious: 48 facts about the Great Wall of China
2. Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is a palace complex in central Beijing that can definitely hold a candle to the Great Wall of China in terms of size. It’s located in the Dongcheng District of the city and forms the central part of the so-called Imperial City, the official residence of the Emperor of China during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
It’s estimated that over a million workers participated in the construction of a grand total of 980 buildings between 1406 and 1420, staggering numbers indeed. Today, the palace complex houses the Palace Museum, a national museum that is considered to be the world’s most-visited museum and which has a collection size of 1.86 million items.
Read more on Listerious: 10 facts about the Forbidden City
Official website: The Palace Museum
3. Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square is the most famous square in Beijing and arguably one of the most famous squares in the world as well. It was named after the monumental gate that faces it on the northern side which gives access to the Imperial City that houses the Forbidden City.
The square was the sight of the most important moment in recent Chinese history, the proclamation of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 by Mao Zedong. It was also the scene of a bloody military crackdown in 1989. Various famous Beijing landmarks are located on or within the vicinity of the square as it’s considered to be the heart of the city.
Read more on Listerious: 12 facts about Tiananmen Square
4. Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is another important Imperial complex in the center of Beijing. Located within a public park that covers an area of 267 hectares (660 acres), the complex features multiple temples that were built around the same time as the Forbidden City during the early phase of the Ming Dynasty in the early 15th century.
This temple was built by the Yongle Emperor so he could conduct special ceremonies for a good harvest, culminating in prayer to Heaven twice a year. The compound features 3 main sections built in the typical traditional Chinese architectural style. This UNESCO World Heritage site is another famous tourist attraction in Beijing that is visited by millions of people every year.
Read more on Listerious: 12 facts about the Temple of Heaven
5. China Zun
The city of Beijing isn’t all traditional buildings as it’s a booming city with a huge Central Business District. One remarkable skyscraper sticks out above all the rest and is called the CITIC Tower. Thsi amazing structure is nicknamed “China Zun,” a reference to its shape which resembles a traditional Chinese wine container called a “zun.”
This tower stands 528 meters (1,732 feet) which makes it by far the tallest building in the city. It’s home to a large number of offices occupied by some of the biggest Chinese and international companies, including Alibaba. It also featured condos and a hotel and there are plans to add an observation deck on the top floor of the building as well, something that will most definitely turn it into a popular tourist attraction in Beijing.
Read more on Listerious: 12 facts about China Zun
6. Mausoleum of Mao Zedong
One of the most peculiar tourist attractions in China’s capital is the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party of China between 1945 and 1976 and one of the most important people in China’s recent history. The remarkable mausoleum is located right in the middle of Tiananmen Square and was built shortly after the man’s death in the 1970s.
Just like some other famous Communist leaders, the pickled body of Mao Zedong is preserved in a cooler and put on public display in the heavily guarded central room of this building. This attraction has been visited by millions of Chinese and international tourists and the mausoleum is still open to the public every single day, except on Mondays.
Read more on Listerious: 10 facts about the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong