Beijing (北京), China

World / Asia / China


Beijing, China
Beijing, China
Author: Castelfranco (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China. It was formerly written in English as Peking. The city is one of the four municipalities in the PRC with equal status as provinces (the other three are Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing).

Beijing is located in northern China. With a municipal population of 22 million, it is the second largest city in China after Shanghai. Beijing serves as the political, educational and cultural centre of the People's Republic of China. It is also the transportation hub, with railways, expressways and flight routes converging on the city.

Beijing Central Business District
Beijing Central Business District
Author: CobbleCC (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Beijing is also one of the four great ancient capitals of China, which includes Xian, Luoyang, and Nanjing (though the cities that had been a Chinese capital are far more numerous). More than just an administrative capital, Beijing is the second most populous city in China after Shanghai. The mood in Beijing is especially exciting as the city gears to be the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, with much of the city getting a facelift. Covering a big area on the northeast of China, Beijing is ringed in rectangular fashion by six or seven ring roads.

History of Beijing

The area in which Beijing is located has been inhabited since the 1st millenium BC. The capital of the State of Yan, during the Warring States Period (473-221BC), was in present-day Beijing. Subsequent dynasties also used the Beijing area as a local administrative centre. During the Tang dynasty, it was the headquarters of the military operations. In 938AD, Beijing became a secondary capital during the Liao Dynasty (907-1125), and was even called Nanjing. The Jurchen Jin Dynasty then annexed the Liao Dynasty in 1125, and in 1153, they moved their capital of the Liao's Nanjing and called it Zhongdu. Zhongdu is located slightly southwest of central Beijing.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Author: Charlie fong (public domain)

Zhongdu was devastated by Mongol forces in 1215. The Mongol leader Kublai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty and established his capital at Dadu, north of Zhongdu, and north of present-day central Beijing. It is situated in the area now bordered by the northern stretch of the 2nd Ring Road, stretching to the 3rd and 4th Ring Roads. Dadu is also called Daidu in Mongol as well as Khanbaliq and Cambuluc, both meaning "great city of the Khans". Beijing appears in Marco Polo's chronicles as Cambuluc.

Beijing National Grand Theatre
Beijing National Grand Theatre
Author: Hui Lan, (cc-by-2.0)

With such a long history, it is understandable that Beijing had been known under a different name during different ages. In addition to the names aforementioned, it was known as Beiping, meaning Northern Peace, between 1368 and 1405, and again from 1928 and 1949, when the capital was moved to Nanjing, the first time under the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and once again under the Kuomintang government of the Republic of China. When the Communists made Beiping their capital, they changed the name back to Beijing, where the word "Jing" means capital. In addition, Beijing is also known informally as Yanjing, in reference to the State of Yan which existed in the area during the Zhou Dynasty.

Places of Interest in Beijing

I mark a star ( * ) for sights of considerable significance, and two stars ( * * ) for sights of major significance. Also, if it's a considerable distance from Beijing city center, I mark it with a hash ( # )
  1. Ancient Observatory
  2. Bei Hai Park
  3. Beijing Botanical Garden *
  4. Beijing Museum of Natural History
  5. Beijing Zoo
  6. Chinese Military History Museum
  7. Chuandixia * #
  8. Confucius Temple
  9. Cow Street Mosque
  10. Dazhalan & Liulichang
  11. Di Tan Park
  12. Dong Yue Miao
  13. Drum & Bell Towers
  14. Eastern Qing Tombs * #
  15. Fayuan Temple
  16. Forbidden City * *
  17. Great Bell Temple
  18. Great Wall of China * * #
  19. Jing Shan Park
  20. Lama Temple
  21. Mansion of Prince Gong
  22. Marco Polo Bridge
  23. Miaoying Temple
  24. Ming Tombs of Chang Ling * #
  25. National Art Museum of China
  26. National Olympic Stadium *
  27. Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian #
  28. Qian Men
  29. South Cathedral
  30. Southeast Corner Watchtower
  31. St Joseph's Church
  32. Summer Palace
  33. Tanzhe Temple #
  34. Temple of Heaven * *
  35. Tiananmen Square *
  36. Underground City
  37. Wangfujing Street
  38. White Clouds Temple
  39. Xiang Shan Park
  40. Yuanming Yuan

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