Beijing (formerly called Peking, Beiping, Dadu, Jingcheng, and Yanjing in different periods of Chinese history) is the capital city of the People's Republic of China. It is also the nation's political and cultural hub. Additionally, it is the focal point for the country's transportation, scientific and technological development, education and communication. Its present-day population is over eleven million, thus,it is the second largest city in China.
Beijing is universally acknowledged for its rich history and cultural development. It is also recognized as a modern international metropolis full of energy and vitality. It is located on the northwest part of Huabei Campagna (the North China Plain) about 150 kilometers (93 miles) west of the Bohai Sea. It has been the capital city of many dynasties in Chinese history. The city's grid pattern and original walls were first laid down in the 13th century when it was called Khanbalik, the capital city of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). It was razed, rebuilt and named Beijing by the Han Chinese rulers of the subsequent Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It also served as capital city of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Beijing is world-famous for its trove of historical sites and enchanting natural scenery, making it a compelling travel destination. It offers a staggering array of attractions including the resplendent Forbidden City
; the majestic Tiananmen Square
(the world's largest public square); the grand meandering Great Wall
, and Beihai Park
(Beijing's oldest imperial garden). It's a remarkable city offering an abundance of ancient and modern architecture, temples, gardens, and museums and a variety of colorful local flavors and customs.
No other city in China offers the range of accommodations Beijing does. There are enormous numbers of four and five-star hotels in convenient locations throughout the city. Beijing is also a food-lovers' dream. It is difficult to imagine a city with more restaurants per square kilometer or a more exhaustive variety of Chinese and foreign cuisines. There is also no shortage of entertainment with the Beijing Opera
, Beijing Concert Hall, acrobatic troupes, and teahouses
being popular choices.
The face of Beijing is rapidly changing as it continually modernizes. You'll see everything ranging from a Harley Davidson motorcycle dealership to upscale women's fashion boutiques to military displays at the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. Despite its progress, the city values its great historical culture and its antiquities. You can capture the true essence of Beijing by walking around the Summer Palace
and its pavilions or strolling through the courtyards and quadrangle
houses or the quaint and serene Hutong
. The modernization has also had a salutary impact on Beijing's citizens. Since reform, living conditions and purchasing power have improved dramatically.
Few cities have the unique historical charm of Beijing. Its wide thoroughfares, magnificent gate tower and memorial arch, and grand palaces all speak to the extensive history of this city. It also stands as a symbol of China's grandeur, history, culture and mystery. Beijing is also an approachable and visitor-friendly city. It eagerly looks forward to being on the world's stage when it hosts the Summer Olympic Games in 2008.
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