Guangzhou Circle

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Guangzhou Circle (Chinese: 广州圆大厦) is a landmark building located in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China. It is the headquarters of the Hongda Xingye Group  and the new home of Guangdong Plastic Exchange (GDPE), the world largest trading centre for raw plastic material with more than 25 billions euros of annual turn over (2012).

Architect

The building has been designed by Italian architect Joseph di Pasquale, The total height is 138 meters for 33 stories, 85.000 square metres of floor area and about 1 billion RMB (150 million dollars) of global investment.

Design

The building is similar to another circular building in Shenyang, although, unlike the other, the central core is open, with no glass. It is the world’s tallest circular building and with the unique feature of its almost fifty meters wide empty hole in the center (48 mt).

The designer stated he was looking for a design based on Oriental psychology and perception, finding in the Chinese use of logographic symbols sinogram in its writing, as an inspiration. In fact, the building is also called an “urban ideogram”.

Many other meanings are linked with the building: the iconic value of jade discs and numerological tradition of Fengshui. In particular, the double disc of jade (bi-disk) is an ancient royal symbol of a Chinese dynasty which ruled in this area around 2000 years ago. The building reflection in the water of the river creates the same type of image: a double jade bi-disc.  This figure also corresponds to the number 8 and infinity symbol which Chinese culture has a strong propitiatory value. 

The building also takes a reference from an idea of the Italian Renaissance; “quadratura del cerchio” (squaring the circle). The two circular facades contain and support suspended groups of storeys which are “squaring” the perfect circumference of the facades in order to make the interior space orthogonal and habitable.

The public areas of the building are not yet open, although the public plaza in front is open. The nearest metro stop is Xilang.

In 2014, CNN listed the building as one of the 10 most interesting buildings, worldwide. 

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GuangZhou

Welcome to GuangZhou “Flower City”


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Guangzhou is a famous culture city and a splendid tourism city with a history of more than 2,200 years and a homeland of overseas Chinese as well.

It enjoys the name of “Flower City” as the superb geographic and climatic conditions in the South contributed to the natural beauty here. As a city of heroes, Guangzhou has a reputation of great eminence in the modern history of China. The historical sites of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Huanghuagang 72 Martyr Cemetery, Guangzhou Luxun Memorial Hall, Peasant Movement Institute, Sanyuanli Anti-British Invasion, and the Former Site of Huangpu Military Academy are the witnesses of the modern history of China, and, together with Baiyun Mountain, Yuexiu Park, Liuhuahu Park, Lu Lake and South-China, constitute colorful landscape groups.

Meanwhile, Guangzhou was the starting point of the “Maritime Silk Road” and is an important port city for the opening and reform of China, making great contribution to the economic and cultural exchange and friendly contacts between China and the rest of the world and demonstrating everlasting prosperity.

Guangzhou’s famous landmarks


Canton Tower

Canton Tower is located at an intersection of Guangzhou New City Central Axes and Pearl River, directly facing Haixinsha Island where the opening and closing ceremonies of the Sixteenth Asian Games were held and the 21st century new city CBD of Guangzhou-Zhujiang New Town.

With its unique shape and design, Canton Tower has become a magnificent landmark on the New City Central Axes, adding beauty and charm to the Pearl River. There is one smaller rotating ellipse at the top twisting up counterclockwise with the other larger rotating ellipse at the bottom, which creates a “slim waist” in the middle and makes it look like a lady looking behind.

Canton Tower is not only a comprehensive sightseeing building with rich cultural connotation but also a world-famous tourist spot integrated with the multi-functions of Sightseeing, F&B, Adventure, 4D Cinema, Wedding, MICE, Science and Technology, Education, and Shopping prosperity.

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Yuexiu Park (Five Rams Sculpture & the Zhenhai Tower)

Guangzhou’s Five Rams Sculpture is located atop Yuexiu Hill. It was built in 1960 from more than 130 pieces of granite and is one of the city’s emblems.

The sculpture represents the five rams who gave Guangzhou its nickname “City of Rams” and were formerly honored at its Temple of the Five Immortals. These immortals were said to have ridden rams into the city soon after its founding, teaching its residents how to grow rice and ending the specter of famine forever. Locals consider the rams symbols of good luck.

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Zhenhai Tower/Chen Hoi Lau

Also atop Yuexiu Hill is the Five-storied Pagoda now known as Chen Hoi Lau. The present structure is 28 meters (92 ft) high and 16 meters (52 ft) wide. It has housed the Guangzhou Museum since it was opened to the public in 1928.

A guard tower was first erected at the site in 1380, one of the first to be constructed in Lingnan. Chinese legend holds that Zhu Liangzu (朱亮祖), Marquis of Yongjia and a member of the Ming dynasty, saw yellow and purple air rising over Yuexiu and was told that it was the sign of a new emperor. He then erected the tower as part of the city walls to alter the mountain’s feng shui and prevent the prophecy from coming to pass. It has been destroyed and rebuilt five times, the various towers appearing in Chinese poetry and art.

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Yuexiu Stadium/Yut Sau Shan Stadium

Yuexiu Stadium was refreshed from the old Yut Sau Shan Park Playground at the foot of the hill in 1950 at the behest of Mayor Ye Jianying. It covers an area of 43,000 square meters (462,848 sq ft). It was one of the Asian Games venues in 2010.

The stadium is not only a sports activity site, but also a large-scale concert hall. Since its opening in October 1950, it has held 200 meetings and more than 280 performances. It can hold 35,000 people.

Pavilion of Regaining

The Pavilion of Regaining is a square pavilion erected in 1948 on the spot of an earlier 1928 memorial to the Xinhai Revolution against the Qing Empire. The first pavilion was destroyed amid fighting with the Japanese during World War II.

Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall

The Sun Yat-sen or Zhongshan Memorial Hall is an octagon-shaped building in Guangzhou, capital of China’s Guangdong Province. The hall was designed by Lu Yanzhi and was built with funds raised by local and overseas Chinese people in memory of Sun Yat-sen. Construction work commenced in 1929 and completed in 1931. The hall is a large octagonal structure with a span of 71 meters without pillars, housing a large stage and seats 3,240 people.

The memorial hall stands on the site of Guangzhou’s Presidential Palace during the Constitutional Protection Movement, when the Nationalists operated a rival “Chinese” government to the Zhili Clique’s Beijing regime.[citation needed] The palace was damaged during Ye Ju’s 16 June 1922 attack on Sun Yat-sen, during which—though he had already fled—his wife narrowly escaped shelling and rifle fire before meeting him on the gunboat Yongfeng, where they were joined by Chiang Kai-shek. The hall itself has been severely damaged and repaired several times until 1998, when it was comprehensively upgraded to its present-day condition. A statue of Sun Yat-sen was erected in front of the main entrance.

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Guangzhou Museum (also known as the Zhenhai Tower)

Locating at the Yuexiu Park, Guangzhou, Zhenhai Tower is a comprehensive history museum with dense Canton characteristics. The tower is one of historic sites in Guangzhou as it is established in 1929. Now, it is used for collection and exhibition of historical data and cultural relics of the city. The museum consists of two parts: the Zhenhai Tower that houses the historical relics and the Art Gallery that exhibits many exquisite local art works.

The memorial hall stands on the site of Guangzhou’s Presidential Palace during the Constitutional Protection Movement, when the Nationalists operated a rival “Chinese” government to the Zhili Clique’s Beijing regime.[citation needed] The palace was damaged during Ye Ju’s 16 June 1922 attack on Sun Yat-sen, during which—though he had already fled—his wife narrowly escaped shelling and rifle fire before meeting him on the gunboat Yongfeng, where they were joined by Chiang Kai-shek. The hall itself has been severely damaged and repaired several times until 1998, when it was comprehensively upgraded to its present-day condition. A statue of Sun Yat-sen was erected in front of the main entrance.

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Ersha Island

Ersha Island is an island in the middle of the Pearl River. Encircled by the Pearl River, the island enjoys picturesque landscape different from the downtown. After the establishment of China, it has been the training base for provincial athletes and an ideal place for exquisite resident houses 80% of which are said to be owned by foreigners. Covered by modern apartments, and art places like Xinghai Concert Hall and Guangdong Museum of Art, the island is given a sense of art.

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Flower City Square

The square in the new central shaft line of Guangzhou has been officially named as “Huacheng Square”. It is regarded as “Guangzhou’s parlor” and is the largest square for civilian purpose in Guangzhou.

The Square is surrounded by 39 buildings, including the Guangzhou No.2 Children’s Palace, the Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou Library, Guangdong Museum and the West Tower (Guangzhou International Financial Center (GZIFC)), etc.

In the Square, there are a man-made lake & landscape district as well as large-scaled fountains, lamplight piazza, system for formation of cold fog and temperature drop, over 600 trees and 5 flower islands. Underneath Huacheng Square is a 150,000 square-meter high-end underground shopping mall, the “Mall of the World”.

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Shameen Island

Shameen Island is a sandbank island in the Liwan District of Guangzhou city, Guangdong province, China. The island’s name literally means “sandy surface” in Chinese. The territory was divided into two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing government in the 19th century. The island is a gazetted historical area that serves as a tranquil reminder of the colonial European period, with quiet pedestrian avenues flanked by trees and lined by historical buildings in various states of upkeep.

The island is the location of several hotels, a youth hostel, restaurants and tourist shops selling curios and souvenirs. Shameen Island was an important port for Guangzhou’s foreign trade from the Song to the Qing Dynasty. From the 18th to the mid 19th century, the foreigners lived and did business in a row of houses known as the Thirteen Factories, on the banks of the Pearl River to the east the present Shameen, which was then an anchorage for thousands of boat people. Shameen became a strategic point for city defense during the period of the First and Second Opium Wars. In 1859,the territory was divided in two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom (of which 3/5 belonged to the British and 2/5 to the French).

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It was connected to the mainland by two bridges, which were closed at 10pm as a security measure. The British arch bridge, also called the “Bridge of England” and built in 1861, to the north was guarded by Sikh police officers, and the French bridge to the east was guarded by Vietnamese (Cochinchina) recruits with the Troupes coloniales.Trading companies from Britain, the United States, France, Holland, Italy,Germany, Portugal, and Japan built stone mansions along the waterfront. The construction on the island was characterized by climate-adapted but Western-plan detached houses with hipped roofs and large verandahs.The island was the scene of fighting during the “June 23 incident” in 1925.After 1949, the mansions of Shameeni became government offices or apartment houses and the churches were turned into factories.

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Litchi Bay

Lychee Bay or Litchi Bay, a set of creeks and lakes that flow southwest to Pearl River, is a tourist attraction in Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong. Liwan District, where Lychee Bay is located, was named after it. There are many historical relics and historical architectures in Lychee Bay, such as Wenta and Xiguan House. Various cultural activities are held on Lychee Bay, such as the competition of Cantonese opera.

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GuangZhou Maps


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GuangZhou Map 2

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Read also:

Beijing Maps 2018

Beijing Maps 2018 – Beijing China Map, Beijing Tourist Map

To help you have a better understanding about Beijing, and plan your Beijing tour easier, we have collected some very useful newest Beijing maps, including Beijing attractions map, Beijing city map, Beijing subway maps, etc, all of which are downloadable and printable.

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Beijing Attractions Map

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Beijing City Map

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Beijing road map

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Beijing subway map

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Beijing Great Wall map

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Fobidden City Layout Map

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Summer Palace Location Map

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Temple of Heaven Location Map

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Beijing China Map

Source: chinadiscovery

Mutianyu Great Wall

Mu Tian Yu Great Wall – Chinese Longest Great Wall

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Mutianyu Great Wall Facts


Mutiayu Great Wall in Huairou District of Beijing is the so far longest great wall in China. It is a precious great wall of Ming dynasty with fewer tourists, fascinating natural sightseeing, fantastic architectural structure, and intensive enemy towers, etc. Mutianyu great wall has significant historic influence in China.

Type: World Heritage Site, Ancient Ruins, Hiking Trails, Outdoor Activities, National AAAA Tourist Spot
Best Seasons: Spring/Autumn; particularly for April, May, September and October
Recommended Visiting Time: half day
Opening Hours: 07:30-17:30
Tickets: RMB 45
Address: Baohai Town, Huairou District, Beijing, China

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Brief Introduction of Mutianyu Great Wall


Mutianyu Great Wall (慕田峪长城), built in 5400 m long, is regarded as the “Essence of Great Wall in Ming Dynasty”. This great wall, linking Gubeikou (古北口) in the east and Juyongguan (居庸关) in the west, was served as the vital military strategic point from the ancient time. Moreover, Mutianyu section is the “longest great wall in China” so far and since protection work is well done here, tourists can now see its original appearance and enjoy the real ancient culture of great wall. Also, spectacular natural scenery in Mutianyu Great Wall always impresses visitors here for its abundant vegetation.

History of Mutianyu Great Wall


Mutianyu was originally a small mountain village before with fluctuating mountains and lush trees. For its vital and special situation, Mutianyu had been an important martial barrier for long time. And till Ming dynasty, a series of war broke out. In order to protect the national capital and the imperial mausoleum of Ming dynasty, the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) ordered his general Xu Da (徐达) to build this great wall in 1368. Although Mutianyu Great Wall has experience damages and reparation for several times, it is the most-preserved section of great wall relics of Ming dynasty.

Unique features of Mutianyu Great Wall


Mutianyu Great Wall has its features both in the architecture and the sightseeing, which is why it is called the outstanding great wall. And with much fewer tourists, you can totally appreciate the beauty of this good place.

Precious Great Wall from Ming Dynasty

Great Wall of the Ming dynasty is a world miracle for its magnificent vigor. Differing from other great walls, especially the Great Wall built by the first Emperor of Qin, great wall of the Ming dynasty is built to prevent the disturbance of the rulers of nomadic people from the northern China. It is also the unique one of longest construction period, hugest project, and the most complete defense system in Chinese history. And Mutianyu Great Wall is regarded as the “Essence of Great Wall of the Ming dynasty” for its imposing and very solid characters.

Densely Placed Watchtowers

The distance between the Great Watchtower and Zhengguantai (正关台) is only less than 500 m, but there sets 4 watchtowers. And there are even 25 watchtowers of different purpose built within the only 3,000 m section. It is rare to see a watchtower about every 100 m in a section of a great wall.

Charming Scenery

Mutianyu Great Wall enjoys diverse beautiful scenery in four seasons for its very high vegetation coverage of over 96 %. In spring, you can appreciate the flower sea of many kinds and multiple colors; when summer comes, the whole scenic area is changed into green with running streams, which is a super spot for eye-pleasure and soul-cooling; In the fall, all the red leaves on the mountain paint Mutianyu a charming shining place and delicious fruits are ripe, and people call it the golden Beijing; While in winter, the white snow cover this area into a gorgeous lady in a silver evening gown, and it is a great time to see the beauty of northern China.

Most Well-preserved Primate Great Wall

Most sections of Mutianyu Great Wall are perfectly protected since long ago. Therefore, visitors can see the authentic look of this kind of historic site, from the magnificent watchtowers, walls of layers of bricks to the ancient pass paved by the hardworking ancients. Walking on the old way, you can both know the strong culture of great wall and the wisdom of ancient Chinese people and feel the labor and pain while constructing this great project.

Full Stereoscopic Impression

Another feature of Mutianyu Great Wall shows in its stereoscopic impression upon visitors, since it was built near the mountains and this is the real essence. Some parts rise for 533 m within 10 towers. Though some sections are gently fluctuate, the whole great wall rises and falls like a flying giant dragon.

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Densely Placed Watchtowers in Mutianyu Great Wall

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Lush Summer Scenery at Mutianyu Great Wall

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Golden Autumn of Mutianyu Great Wall

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Super Steep Way up along Mutianyu Great Wall

Shining Places to See in Mutianyu Great Wall


Zhengguan Tai

Zhengguan Tai is also called Mutianyu Gate. It is rarely seen in the architectural history of great wall for there are three watchtowers existing side by side together. This gate built in 1404 AD, 40 m long, 30 wide, and 20 high, enjoyed a key strategic position at that time. One side is the garrison of the Xiongnu (匈奴) people outside the great wall, one way reaches the downtown of ancient Beijing city, and the left one serves as the shortcut to the Imperial Mausoleum.

The Great Watchtower

The Great Watchtower, located at the commanding height at the east side of Mutianyu Gate, is a very famous spot in this scenic area. It is characteristic in its possession of great walls in three sides, and from any angle, you can see it like the corner of a city gate. For its special high position, you just could completely have a panoramic viewer of the inside and outside of the great wall.

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Zhengguai Tai at Mutianyu Great Wall

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The Great Watchtower of Mutianyu Great Wall

Things to Do in Mutianyu Great Wall


Hiking

It is especially meaningful and unforgettable to take a hike on Mutianyu Great Wall. You can feel the painstaking process of ancient laborers who built this masterpiece by laying the heavy bricks one by one, while climbing higher step by step. Furthermore, you can get stuck in the picturesque scenery along the way up, with blossoms, lush trees, splendid view of clouds, etc.

Photography

Mutianyu Great Wall is a worth-going place for shutterbug. They can get a close shot of the historic project of treasure that is perfectly kept till now. Moreover, the fascinating sightseeing from the colorful spring, emerald summer, to the golden autumn and the niveous winter, all make you satisfied with your shoot.

Toboggan

Since Mutianyu Great Wall Scenic Area provides the standard slide way for tourists, people can take a try to get a distinct feel. As this great wall has steep topography, it is very exciting to take a toboggan, rising and falling along the mountain. This very safe tool will drive all your stress away and make you enjoyable.

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Mutianyu Great Wall Hiking

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Mutianyu Toboggan

Recommended Route to Visit Mutianyu Great Wall


Tourists can choose diverse routes to visit Mutianyu Great Wall. If you want to hike this masterpiece, you can just walk from the entrance to the 6th Watchtower to see the Great Watchtower in different angles, and hike your way up to appreciate the beautiful full view of this area between the 14th and the 23rd Watchtower.

If you want to only enjoy the sightseeing, you can take the cable car directly up to the 14th Watchtower.

And if you are attempting to experience the exciting toboggan, you can start near the South Ticket Entrance up to the 6th Watchtower.

Location & How to Get to Mutianyu Great Wall


Situated 80 km from the northeast of Beijing downtown, it needs about 1 hour and a half to drive from the downtown of Beijing to Mutianyu Great Wall.

Travel with China Discovery (Top Recommended)

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing, dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Mutianyu Great Wall with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.

Independent Travel

If you want to get here by yourself, you can take a bus to Huairou District and then choose a private car to Mutianyu Great Wall Tourist Area.

Useful Tips


What to pack

Take enough cloths while visiting here in winter since the temperature on the mountain is lower than that in downtown Beijing;

Take sunglasses to prevent the dazzling solar glare;

Well prepare your camera to take beautiful pictures.

Mutianyu Great Wall has gained good review from visitors because it is less crowded than Badaling Great Wall and has better infrastructures than Jinshanling Great Wall.

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Mutianyu Cable Car

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Location Maps of Mutianyu Great Wall

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Tourist Map of Mutianyu Great Wall

Source: chinadiscovery

Badaling Great Wall

Badaling Great Wall – Masterpiece among All Great Walls

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Badaling Great Wall Facts


Badaling Great Wall is very popular among both domestic and foreign travelers because it is not only can be reached from Beijing easily, but also the best representative section of all Great Wall of China. It used to play a significant role in ancient Chinese history.

Type: World Heritage Site, Ancient Ruins, Hiking Trails, Outdoor Activities
Best Seasons: Spring/Autumn
Recommended Visiting Time: half day
Opening Hours: Apr to Oct: 06:30 ~ 19:00 / Nov to Mar: 07:00 ~ 18:00
Tickets: Apr to Oct: ¥50 / Nov to Mar: ¥45
Address: Badaling Timberland, Fangshan District, Beijing 102112, China

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Why is Badaling Great Wall So Special – Facts


As the highlighting section of Great Wall also an important historical site in China, Badaling Great Wall (八达岭长城) has earned many brilliant reputations and favors from all over the world. Thousands of tourists swarm to Badaling Great Wall to witness its significance each month. Many famous politicians are also attracted to admire the Badaling Great Wall by its great reputations.

  1. Listed as World Cultural Heritage Site by UESCO
  2. Known as one of the New Seven World Wonders
  3. Most representative section of Ming Great Wall
  4. First section of Great Wall opened for tourists
  5. Most visited by famous international figures

Where is Badaling Great Wall – Location


Badaling Great Wall is located in Yanqing (延庆) County about 60km northwest from Beijing City. Being strategically located and difficult of access, it used to be the vital defensive pass for the capital city – Beijing.

  • 10 km from Badaling Great Wall Ruin
  • 15 km from Juyongguan Great Wall
  • 44 km from Ding Tomb
  • 67 km from Bird Net
  • 77 km from Tiananmen Square

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Badaling Great Wall Location Map

How to go to Badaling Great Wall


From Beijing downtown, travelers can transfer to Badaling great wall with flexible choices of transportation.

Travel with China Discovery (Top Recommended)

If you want to get rid of hustle of public transportation and troublesome navigation, you can book a private tour package which covers sightseeing, dining and transfer from us. Our local tour guide and driver will escort you to Badaling Great Wall with speed and convenience, and take care of all the details. You just need to focus on sightseeing.

Independent Travel

For independent travelers, you can take public bus (998) at Deshengmen. The transfer takes about 90 minutes from Beijing City to Badaling. There are scheduled high speed trains as another choice – S2 usually depart from Beijing North Railway Station to Yanqing County. Passengers can get off at Badaling Train Station which is the penultimate stop of line S2. Frequent and flexible schedules are offered for you to choose.

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Train to Badaling Great Wall

History of Badaling Great Wall


Before Ming Dynasty

“Shih Chi” (史记) and other Chinese historical records have proved that there used to be some ancient walls built during the Warring States Period (战国时期475-221BC). Nearly 1,500 years ago, North Wei Dynasty (北魏) constructed great wall which started from Badaling to the western bank of Yellow River (黄河). The later kingdom North Qi (北齐) expanded the great wall to the eastern region near to the sea.

Ming Dynasty

Ming Dynasty moved capital to Beijing during the reign of Yongle Emperor (永乐皇帝). To prevent the evasion and guard the capital Beijing, Ming Empire spent more than 80 years to rebuild the Badaling Great Wall as an important part of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall which started from Jiayuguan Pass (嘉峪关) on the western China to the Yalu River (鸭绿江) on the eastern China with a total length of more than 6,300 km. Unlike the former dynasties, Ming attached great importance to the project, and was much strict with every detail, including the wall structure, materials, etc. So the walls built in Ming Dynasty were much stronger and more solemn than walls in any other periods.

Restoration

Due to the constant wars and natural corrosion of more than 500 years, more than 30% of Great Walls are damaged. To preserve the great wall well, a project was launched in 1953 to restore the fortress and some parts of the walls. After several times of restoration, more than 3,741 meters’ wall are now available for tourists, including 16 towers and one fortress.

What are the features of Badaling Great Wall


Badaling Great Wall fully embodies the strategic role of military defense. The walls were constructed on cliffy mountain ranges without interrupt. Defense towers, watching towers, beacon towers connect walls together and stretch to far away. In the ancient time, Badaling Great Wall is the outer defense of Juyongguan Pass.

Walls

Compared to other sections of Great Wall, such as Mutianyu, Jinshanling, Badaling Great Wall is featured in wider and higher walls which are usually 6~9 meters high and 6.5~7.5 meters wide, available for 5 houses or 10 solders to get through simultaneously.

Fortress

The Great Wall is divided into many sections by the fortress. The fortress of Badaling Great Wall is middle-sized shaping like a trapezoid compared to Jiayuguan and Juyongguan. The walls are tall and strong (approximately 20 meters wide, 8 meters high) for soldiers to fight against the invaders. Two high dominating on the fortress allows the guarding solders to observe enemies from far distance. The fortress has two gates which are famous for their historical inscriptions (eastern gate: 居庸外镇 – Ju Yong Wai Zhen; western gate: 北门锁钥 – Bei Men Suo Yue).

Towers

There are more than 43 towers on the Badaling Great Wall taking charging of different roles with diverse exteriors and interiors, such as towers for guarding and watching, signaling, battling, camping, etc. So far, only four towers on the southern section and 8 towers on the northern section of Badaling Great Wall are opened for tourist.

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Wall of Badaling Section

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Fortress of Badaling Great Wall

Recommended Visiting Route


If you want to hike the Badaling great wall, you can start to hike from the fortress to the connecting location of southern section and northern section from which you need to first hike one section, and then return the same way to another section. The southern section is short with 4 towers, while the northern section has 8 towers. If you want to save energy and time, you can take cableway directly to the No. 7 Towers on the northern section, then walk to the southern section.

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Badaling Great Wall Tourist Map

Other nearby Sites


If you want to explore nearby of Badaling, there are several places to go. You can go to learn the history and other facts of the whole Great Wall of China in the Great Wall Museum, or enjoy a documentary movie about great wall in the theatre. There is also a Bear Zoo with wonderful show performed by black bears.

Classic one day’s Route to Badaling Great Wall


Travelers usually need to transfer about 60km (approximately 1h) from Beijing downtown to Badaling Great Wall where you can stay about a half day. The rest time is for you to travel back to downtown with a side trip to explore the imperial mausoleum of Ming Dynasty – Ding Tomb. You will also stop at Olympic Village to see the brilliant stadiums – Bird Net and Water Cube.

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Ding Tomb

Useful Tips


Best time to go – seasonal advice – Different views in different season

March to May & September to November is the best time to visit Badaling Great Wall. It is warm and comfortable in spring with fewer crowds. Red and golden leaves spread around great walls in autumn. The great walls are stunning when the snow covers the entire northern China.

What to pack

Since the great walls are built on lofty mountains, one is suggested to wear comfortable and light shoes. Sunblock, sun glasses are recommended in summer days.

Ticket & Fee

The entry ticket: Apr to Oct: ¥50 / Nov to Mar: ¥45

Cableway: one way – ¥80 / round trip – ¥100

Source: chinadiscovery

Summer Palace

Summer Palace – Best Royal Garden in China

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About Summer Palace


Summer Palace is now a public park, but used to be the private garden for Royal families of Qing Dynasty to decamp during the hot summer days. It has assembled almost the best design, skill and classic features of traditional gardening architecture of ancient China.

Type: World Heritage Site, Royal Garden, Architectural Buildings, Parks
Best Seasons: Spring/Autumn
Recommended Visiting Time: 3~4 hours
Opening Hours: Apr to Oct: 06:30 ~ 18:00 / Nov to Mar: 07:00 ~ 17:00
Tickets: Apr to Oct: ¥30 / Nov to Mar: 20¥
Address: 19 Xin Jian Gong Men Rd, Haidian District, Beijing 100084, China

Brief Impression about Summer Palace – Facts


Located on the western outskirts, Summer Place (颐和园) is one of the most popular attractions in Beijing. Just as its name implies, the palace is the place of emperors and his families of Qing Dynasty for summer retreat. Not only the landscape, but also the designs of Summer Palace are the best masterpieces among all the ancient gardens. Constructed around the Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, Summer Palace is a vast complex of gardens, palaces, lakes and hills.

On December 2nd, 1998, UNESCO announced the Summer Palace as a World Heritage Site with the declaration “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design”. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a “harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value”.

Location & Transportation


Where is Summer Palace

Summer Palace is located in Haidian District (海淀区), approximately 15km away from the central Beijing, adjacent to Yuanmingyuan Garden (圆明园), Tsinghua University (清华大学) and Peking University (北京大学).

About 21 km from Temple of Heaven
About 19 km from Forbidden City
About 20 km from Tiananmen Square
Transfer to/off Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is usually covered in a full day’s visiting of Beijing tour package with other famous sites, such as Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven. The package includes convenient and private transfer, which is helpful and more enjoyable for you to focus on sightseeing.

If you prefer independent travel, you can take the subway Line 4 to the northern gate or eastern gate of Summer Palace. There are also many public buses available for you to transfer to or off the Summer Palace, such as 209, 330, 331, 332, 346, etc.

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History of Summer Palace


Built by Emperor Qianlong

To irrigate royal gardens in western region outside the Forbidden City, the emperor Qianlong (乾隆) o ordered to expand the West Lake in 1750, and renamed the lake as Kunming Lake. The excavated earth from the expansion was moved to pile the Jar Hill which later was renamed as Longevity Hill (长寿山). In 1764, Qianlong gave the order again to construct a real garden around the Kunming Lake with the blueprint of the famous West Lake in Hangzhou. The garden, firstly named “Qingyiyuan” (清漪園; “Gardens of Clear Ripples””), was themed by an ancient Chinese mythology about three holy mountains in the East Sea. So the artisans built three islands in the lake to represent the three mountains – Nanhu Island, Tuancheng Island and Zaojiantang Island. Many constructions in the palace imitated the designs of other famous sites around China, including Yueyang Tower (岳阳楼) in Hunan, Yellow Crane Tower (黄鹤楼) in Hubei, shopping streets in Suzhou and Yangzhou.

Destruction and Restoration

In 1860, the end of the Second Opium War, allied army of British and French destructed large parts of Qingyiyuan Palace. During 1884~1895, the empress Dowager Cixi (慈溪太后) rebuilt the palace and gave the present Chinese name “Yiheyuan” (颐和园). In 1900, the army of the Eight-Nation Alliance invaded Beijing again, and destroyed the Summer Palace. Many artifacts stored in the palace were looted. Two years later, the palace was restored again under the order of empress Cixi. Since then, the Summer Palace has been preserved well, and served as a public park till today.

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Summer Palace in Qing Dynasty

Attractions & Things to do in Summer Palace


The Summer Palace can functionally be divided into three zones. The first, represented by the solemn Renshou Palace, is the administrative zone where the empress Cixi and emperor Guangxu deal with the daily affairs and hold diplomatic activities. The second, represented by Leshou Palace, Yulan Palace and Yiyun Palace, is the living zone of Cixi, Guangxu and his princesses. The third zone is the largest as well as the most important part playing the role as entertaining, gardening and sightseeing, surrounded the Longevity Hill, including the highlighting sites Foxiang Pavilion, Paiyun Pavilion, 17-Arch Bridge, etc.

Attractions You can’t Miss Out


Renshou Palace – Hall of Benevolence and Longevity (仁寿殿): Situated at the left side of the entrance of eastern gate. It used to be the place where court sessions were held during the reign of Qianlong Emperor and Guangxu Emperor (光绪皇帝).

Leshou Palace – Hall of Joy and Longevity (乐寿堂). Facing the Kunming Lake, back against the Longevity Hill, Leshou Palace was the palace where empress Cixi lived.

Yulan Palace – Hall of Jade Billows (玉澜堂): Located west of Renshou Palace, Yulan Palace served as the living quarters of the Qing emperors. The empress Cixi once confined the emperor Guangxu here for 10 years.

Longevity Hill – this 58-meter high hill is the seat of some most important buildings of Summer Palace located on the front and back hills, including Paiyun Pavilion (排云殿), Foxiang Pavilion (佛香阁) and some Tibetan Buddhist temples.

Kunming Lake (昆明湖) – it is the body lake, and covers more than 3/4 the entire size of Summer Palace. Three small islands sit in the lake standing for three holy mountains in ancient mythology legend. Many buildings, such as bridge, dikes, imitated the features of those of West Lake in Hangzhou.

Foxiang Pavilion – this 41-meter high pavilion is a Buddhist temple for royal families to worship to the Buddha in Qing Dynasty. It has 8 stories, was propped up by 8 huge wooden pillars. The design and decoration inside is fabulous.

Long Corridor (长廊) – it lies at the southern foot of Longevity Hill facing the Kunming Lake. The corridor is regarded as the longest of its kind in the world with a total length of 728 meters. More than 14,000 paintings of famous places and known story from legends, folktales, novels, and so on, hang on the corridor.

Suzhou Street (苏州街) – the emperor Qianlong were keen on the prosperity of Jiangnan (Suzhou, Hangzhou, etc.), so he built the imitated shopping street resembling Shantang Street in Suzhou. Eunuch and maids in the royal palace acted as retailers when the emperors shop on the street.

17-Arch Bridge (十七孔桥) – 8 meters wide and 150 meters long, the bridge is the largest and longest bridge in the Summer Palace with 17 different types of arches. It incorporates features of the Precious Belt Bridge in Suzhou and the Lugou Bridge in Beijing.

Recommended Activities in Summer Palace

Boating is very popular among travelers especially families with kids. The Kunming Lake covers vastly allowing you to enjoy the fascinating landscape with slow pace on the boat. But it is not available during winter because the lake usually is frozen.

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Kunming Lake

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Long Corridor

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17-Arch Bridge

Recommended Visiting Route


Classic Route

There are three entrances – Eastern Gate, Northern Gate and New Palace Gate. Travelers usually enter into the park from the Eastern Gate, then sightsee sites around, such as Renshou Palace, Wenchang Temple, etc. Then stroll around to the living zone of Royal families of Qing Empire. Don’t miss the Yulan Palace, Leshou Palace and Yiyun Palace. Then go to explore the famous Long Corridor. Next is to visit some important architecture on the Longevity Hill, such as Paiyun Pavilion, Foxiang Pavilion, etc. Lastly, take a boat to the Nanhu Island to see the 17-Arch Bridge, and exist from New Palace Gate. The entire sightseeing takes about 3 hours to go through.

Extension Route

If time allows, you can extend your visit to the western dam region which is featured in different type of bridges. The back hill of Longevity Hill also offers many interesting sites, such as the Suzhou Street, Xiequ Garden (Garden of Harmonious Pleasures), etc. If you are interested in Tibetan Buddhism, don’t miss the Four Great Regions which resembles the Samye Monastery in Tibet.

Nearby Places to Go

Summer Palace region is also famous for having two most famous universities in China – Tsinghua and Peking both of which have long history and outstanding reputation throughout China. Addition to the youth and vigour, Tsinghua and Peking Universities are also a pleasant place for exploring some ancient historical sites and peaceful nature.

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Peking University

Useful Tips


Best time to go – seasonal advice – Different views in different season

September and October are best months to visit Summer Palace. The autumn here is cool, neither too cold nor too hot. Spring is pleasant. Summer is usually hot and rainy, but a good season to enjoy the prosperous nature as well as the best time for boating on the Kunming Lake. If you want to see some spectacular views of Summer Palace, winter is the time when the snow covers the pavilions, towers, bridges – peaceful and pure.

Ticket & Fee

Apr to Oct: ¥30 / Nov to Mar: 20¥

Notes:

  1. The price doesn’t include the boating and entry fees for Wenchang Temple(¥20), Dehe Garden(¥5), Foxiang Pavilion(¥10) and Danning Hall(¥10);
  2. Joint Ticket charges ¥60(Apr to Oct) and ¥50(Nov to Mar), and covers the entry fees for Wenchang Temple, Dehe Garden, Foxiang Pavilion and Danning Hall.

Service & Facility

Summer Palace offers tour guide service for different language travelers, including English, Russian, French, etc. Self-service audio explanation is also available.

There are also places for dinning and shopping, including 3 Chinese restaurants, several artwork shops. Barrier-free washroom and path are available.

Source: chinadiscovery

 

 

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven – Brilliant World Heritage Site

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About Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is the best place in Beijing to explore the traditional royal sacrificial culture of ancient China. At the same time, it is a pleasant place for leisure stay of walking or sightseeing, also for exploration of local culture.

Type: World Heritage Site, Historic Sites, Parks, Sights & Landmarks
Best Seasons: Spring/Autumn
Recommended Visiting Time: 1~2 hours
Opening Hours: Apr to Oct: 06:00 ~ 20:00 / Nov to Mar: 06:30 ~ 21:00
Tickets: ¥15 / Nov to Mar: ¥10
Address: Tiantan Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100050, China


Brief Impression about Temple of Heaven – Facts

The Temple of Heaven (天坛) is one of the most brilliant ancient architectures in China. It is also an outstanding masterpiece of classic imperial buildings throughout Chinese history. The site was firstly built in 1420 by Yongle Emperor (永乐皇帝), then expanded by the subsequent emperors of both Ming and Qing Dynasty, and had served as the holy place for emperors to pay homage to Heaven and to pray for a year of rich harvest.

Compared with all other sacrificial sites in the world, the Temple of Heaven is the largest not only in the size and scale, but also the forms and traditions. In 1998, the UNESCO listed the Temple of Heaven in the World Heritage Sites List with description as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations…”

Location & Transportation


Where is the Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven is located in the central area of Beijing City which is also the attraction-gathering region. The famous Forbidden City (Palace Museum) and Tiananmen Square are conveniently situated at the northwest of Temple of Heave within short walking distance.

  • 6 km from Forbidden City
  • 5 km from Tiananmen Square
  • 21 km from Summer Palace
  • 75 km from Badaling Great Wall
  • 6.5 km from Jingshan Park

Transfer to/around Temple Heaven

The visit of Temple of Heaven takes about 1~2 hours, so it is usually recommended to tour with other sites in Beijing city, such as the Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace or Hutongs as a full day tour package which has covered convenient and private transfer to and around the Temple of Heaven.

Subway and public buses are also available for independent travelers. You can take subway Line 5, and exist at Tiantan Dongmen Station which is only several minutes’ walking away from the East Gate of Temple of Heaven. Many buses pass by the park, including 120, 17, 2, 35, 36, 504, 53, etc.

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Temple of Heaven Location Map

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Temple of Heaven in Qing Dynasty

Architectural Art, Layout & Geomantic Omen


Layout

The Temple of Heaven is featured in precise structure, peculiar design and magnificent decoration. Covering more than 267 hectares (660 acres), the Temple of Heaven is the general reference of Huanqiu Altar (圜丘) and Qigu Altar(祈谷) which locate separately at an axle path from south to north – Danbi Bridge (丹陛桥). The most important building of Huanqiu Altar is Huangqiongyu Pavillion (皇穹宇). Qigu Altar has Qinian Pavilion (祈年殿), Huangqian Pavilion (皇乾殿) and Qinian Gate (祈年门), etc.

Ancient Chinese mythology believed the Heaven is circle and the Earth is square, which is fully embodied in the design of Temple Heaven. Two long-sketching cordons of wall surrounded the temple complex. The southern outer wall was built like a taller semi-circular representing Heaven. While the northern wall is shorter, rectangular, stands for the Earth. Both the Huanqiu Altar and Qigu Altar are round, and stand on two square yards.

The brilliant artisans of Qing Dynasty built supernatural sites – Echo Wall, Three-Sound Stone, and Conversation Stone according to the science of acoustics.

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Layout of Temple of Heaven

Architectural Art, Layout & Geomantic Omen


Important Buildings in the Park

Qinian Hall (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) is most magnificent building in the Temple of Heaven. It is a wooden triple-gable circular pavilion which is 38 meters high with a three-level marble stone base. The ancient emperors prayed for good harvests here. There are 28 pillars propping up the hall. The inner 4 pillars are large, and stand for four seasons. The middle 12 pillars represent the twelve months. The outer 12 pillars indicate 12 periods of a day.

Huangqiongyu Hall (The Imperial Vault of Heaven) is smaller with only one circular gable and one level of marble stone base compared with Qinian Hall. It is the place to enshrine the worshiping tablets of Gods. Inside the hall are pillars and vault decorated by beautiful paintings and carvings. Outside is a circular wall – Echo Wall which can transmit sounds over long distances.

Huanqiu Altar (The Circular Mound Altar) is an empty circular platform with three levels of marble stones. Vivid dragons were carved on the stones to stand for the emperors. The number nine stands for power as well as the emperors in ancient China. You will surprisedly find the balusters and steps are either the sacred number nine or its multiples. In the ancient time, the emperors burn the offerings for Heaven in a stove on the platform.

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Inside Qinian Hall

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Huangqiongyu Hall

Local Folk & Activities

The Temple of Heaven is divided into two parts – public park area and tourist area. The public area now serves as an entertaining and morning exercise place for locals, and is open from early morning to later night. People living near usually like to take exercise or take part in folk activities in the park, such as running, cycling, playing Tai Chi. You can spare some time to stroll leisurely in the park to get involved in the interested activities, or just experience the peaceful atmosphere of local people’s living.

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Local Acitivities in Temple of Heaven

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Temple of Heaven Tourist Map

Sacrificial Culture of Temple of Heaven


In the ancient China, the emperors attached great importance on the sacrifice to the Heaven because they are believed to be the son of Heaven. They ruled the county on behalf of Heaven.

To show their respect and gratefulness to the Heaven, the emperors of Ming and Qing Dynasties moved from Forbidden City to encamp in the Temple of Heaven with their retunes twice a year. The emperor would pray to Heaven for good harvests on the altar. Grand ceremony must be held perfectly, because the smallest mistake would bring bad luck for the whole nation in the next years.

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Sacrificial Ceremony in Temple of Heaven

Useful Tips


Best time to go – seasonal advice – Different views in different season

March to May and September to November is the best time to visit the Temple of Heaven. But actually the Temple of Heaven is suitable for travel all year around. You can see the blooming lilac during the middle April. In summer days, the whole park is decorated by flourishing green trees. The cool autumn is the best season when the sky is clear and blue. Winter is cold, but you can get rid of the crowds, and focus on exploring the fabulous architectures.

Ticket & Fee

Apr to Oct: ¥35 / Nov to Mar: ¥30

Notes: Note: the price include both the entrance fee and tickets for sites for Qigu Altar and Huanqiu Altar(¥20), Sacrificial Music Hall and Fast Palace (¥10).

Tour Guide Service

Independent travelers can rent the self-service audio guide device at the four gates of Temple of Heaven (Chinese, Cantonese, English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean). You can also hire a personal tour guide in the park to get more detailed explanation.

Source: chinadiscovery

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square – Largest Public Square in the World

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Tiananmen Square Facts


Tiananmen Square is the heart of Beijing City and the largest center plaza in the world. As a site of many important events, Tiananmen Square enjoys a great political, historical and cultural significance.

Type: Historical Sites, Architectural Buildings, Museum, Interest & Landmarks
Best Seasons: All seasons
Recommended Visiting Time: Half a day
Opening Hours: 5:00 ~ 22:00
Tickets: Free for Square
Address: Chang’an Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing, 100009, China

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Overview of Tiananmen Square


Tiananmen Square (天安门广场) was first built in Ming Dynasty when Emperor Zhudi (朱棣) laid out the city of Beijing. It has been an imperial square enclosed by railings out the Forbidden Palace and civilians are forbidden to enter.

As more than 500 years passed, Tiananmen Square became a diamond in the crown of Beijing. It witnessed how Chinese people struggle against the feudal governance and foreign invaders for democracy and freedom. On 1st October 1949, Chairman Mao proclaimed the establishment of People’s Republic of China in Tiananmen Gate. Without any doubt, Tiananmen Square becomes a symbol of national cohesion and prosperity of China.

Layout & Construction

Occupying an area of 440,000 square meters and able to hold more than 1,000,000 people at the same time, Tiananmen Square stretches 880 m from north to south and 500 m from west to east. Monument to the People’s Heroes is standing in the center of Tiananmen Square and Mao Zedong Memorial Hall is nearby. In northern Tiananmen Square is the ancient Tiananmen Tower which is constructed in 14 century while National Museum of China is in east square and Great Hall of the People west. Being magnificent and resplendent, the whole square presents a neatly symmetrical image.

Highlight


Tiananmen Tower

Tiananmen Tower (sometimes open to public) was first built in 1417 and acted as the front gate to Forbidden City. During Qing and Ming Dynasties, Tiananmen Tower was the place for officials and eunuchs to issue the emperor’s proclamation. It could be open only in major occasions such as emperors’ wedding, enthronement and ceremonies to worship heaven or earth.

The 33.7 meter high Tiananmen Tower is made up of the tower with 60 giant columns and below platform built in Sumeru throne. The tower is rather glorious, dazzling golden brick paving on the ground, two elegantly designed doors carved with delicate decorative pattern, the arch and beam drawn with Chinese traditional patterns with auspicious meaning. The front side of Tiananmen Tower has 5 arched doors, among which the mid one is exclusively open for the emperor in ancient times. Above this special door hangs a big portrait of Chairman Mao, and on its two sides you can read two sentence—one is “Long live the People’s Republic of China” while the other is “Long live the Unity of People of Whole World” Confronted with Tiananmen Square, Jinshui River flows by. Across Jinshui River builds some bridges for different people with different status.

Monument to the People’s Heroes

With a height of 37.94 meter, Monument to the People’s Heroes is the largest monument in China’s history, also the first building after the founding of New China.

The monument is piled up by 17,000 pieces of granite and white marble. It includes platforms, sumeru thrones, body and head from bottom to top. The lower part of platform shapes like a crabapple flower, but the upper is quadrate and enclosed with white marble columns. The big sumeru throne above the platforms is inlaid with exquisite reliefs which depict the crucial events and showing a part of the centuries-old history of China. The front body of Monument to the People’s Heroes is faced with Tiananmen Tower and inscribed with large, glazed words by Mao Zedong (毛泽东): Immortal People’s Heroes. The back part of the monument is composed of 7 pieces of stone with handwriting by Chairman Mao Zedong and inscribed by Premier Zhou Enlai (周恩来) which read “Glory forever”. The solemn and grandeur monument reflects the tremendous contribution of revolutionary martyrs and people’s strong homage to them.

Monument to the People’s Hero was designed by Liang Sicheng (梁思成) and other great architects after collecting the opinion of the influential person from construction zone, research zone and art zone. It is crystallization of culture and wisdom of people. In addition to paying respects to martyrs, Monument to the People’s Heroes still shows Chinese traditional national art, and acts as the essence of Chinese architectural art.

Great Hall of the People

Step down from the white marble base at the rear of the Hall of Preserving Harmony, a wide courtyard separates the outer court from inner court.

Situated in the west side of Tiananmen Square, Great Hall of the people covers 170,000 square meters. This building involves the style of traditional Chinese architecture with the essence of western architectures. With 12 25-meter high marble gateposts standing in the frontage, the marble floor in peach-pink, translucent quartz lamp hanging on the roof, Great Hall of the People presents an atmosphere of refinement and elegancy.

In fact, Great Hall of the People is mostly used for ceremonial activities, national meeting or other special events like large anniversary celebration, memorial service for former leaders etc.

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall was built in 1977 to commemorate the founding leader Chairman Mao. It enjoys two floors. The first floor can be divided into three parts. In the Northern Hall, there is a lifelike white marble statue of Chairman Mao and an exquisite picture scroll of the beautiful lands in China. In the main hall, visitors can pay a view to the body of Chairman Mao. The great man lies in a crystal cabinet, draped in the flag of the Chinese Communist Party which is emblazoned with hammer and sickle. Chinese people show deep respect when faced with the physical presence of Chairman Mao. The Southern displays the literary achievements of the Chairman Mao. The second floor is equipped with 6 Revolutionary Performance Showroom of 6 great leaders including Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi (刘少奇), Zhu De (朱德), Deng Xiaoping (邓小平) and Chen Yun (陈云). By large amounts of detailed and accurate photos, documents and other material objects, the showrooms give an expression to the historical picture of how Chinese people make a revolution and build a new China.

National Museum of China

As a blend of collecting, displaying, research, archaeological studies, public education and cultural communication, National Museum of China is a comprehensive museum with an emphasis on Chinese art and history. It enjoys large scale, rich collections, and becomes one of the most popular museums in the world. Most charming collection is Ancient China Exhibition with 2026 cultural relics containing 521 fist level cultural relics. In the sequence of the changes of dynasties and focusing on cultural relics, the exhibition shows the endless stretches of Chinese civilization. The exhibition is made up of 8 parties according to different periods.

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Layout of Tiananmen Square

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Tiananmen Tower

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Inside Tiananmen Tower

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Monument to the People’s Heroes

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Reliefs in Monument

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Great Hall of the People

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Mao Zedong Memorial Hall

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Statue of Chairman Mao

Attraction around Tiananmen Square


Passing through Tiananmen Square, the magnificent imperial palace coming into your eyes is charming Forbidden City. Once forbidden but now permitted. It will be an enjoyable experience to visit a huge palace once built by the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is a huge palace complex of more than 9,000 rooms where 24 emperors of Ming and Qing Dynasties used to live in. Pass across various doorways to admire the magnificent and well preserved buildings decorated with yellow glazed tile roof, white marble base and splendid colorful paintings. The cultural richness of china is truly reflected at this historical palace.

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Forbidden City

Get to Tiananmen Square – Location & Transportation


Tiananmen Square is at the city central axis of Beijing, just at the south of the Forbidden City. You can get there very conveniently by taxi, subway, bus, bicycle, and others. If you go by Beijing subway, you can take the Metro Line 1 to get off at Tiananmendong (天安门东) or Tiananmenxi (天安门西), or take the Metro Line 2 to get off at Qianmen (前门). And let’s see the distance to the hot attractions in Beijing as following.

  • From the Forbidden City – about 1km, walking for 15 mins
  • From the Temple of Heaven – about 4km, driving for 25 mins
  • From the Summer Palace – about 18km, driving for 38 mins
  • From the Badaling Great Wall – about 75km, driving for 1 hr & 50 mins

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Location Map of Tiananmen Square

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Warm Tips


  • Getting up early (04:40~07:40 depends on seasons) ensures you to watch the flag raising ceremony at sunrise, performed by a troop of People’s Liberation Army soldiers drilled to march at precisely fixed paces per minute.
  • Depending on the time of visiting, be ready for long queues through the security check before you can get to the square – but well worth the wait. There is another security check before entering Chairman Mao’s Memorial Hall, so depositing your bag in advance is time-saving.
  • Opening hours and admission fee for different attractions:

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Flag-raising ceremony

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Ticket fee is for reference only. For up-to-date information, feel free to contact us.

Tours & Travel Information


4 Days Classic Beijing Tour Package

Opera Snapshot_2017-12-13_070137_www.chinadiscovery.com

5 Days Experience the Real Hutong Life of Beijing

Opera Snapshot_2017-12-13_070848_www.chinadiscovery.com

6 Days Experience the Real Hutong Life of Beijing

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8 Days Experience the Real Hutong Life of Beijing

Opera Snapshot_2017-12-13_070621_www.chinadiscovery.com

Source: chinadiscovery

 

 

 

 

 

Forbidden City

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Forbidden City is a palace complex in central Beijing, China. The former seat of Imperial Chinese Dragon Throne from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912, it now houses the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.

Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 72 ha (over 180 acres). The palace exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

Since 1925 the Forbidden City has been under the charge of the Palace Museum, whose extensive collection of artwork and artefacts were built upon the imperial collections of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Part of the museum’s former collection is now in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Both museums descend from the same institution, but were split after the Chinese Civil War. Since 2012, the Forbidden City has seen an average of 15 million visitors annually, and had 16 million visitors in 2016.

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Contents
1 Name
2 History
3 Description
3.1 Walls and gates
3.2 Outer Court or the Southern Section
3.3 Inner Court or the Northern Section
3.4 Religion
3.5 Surroundings
3.6 Symbolism
4 Collections
5 Influence

Name


The common English name “Forbidden City” is a translation of the Chinese name Zijin Cheng (Chinese: 紫禁城; pinyin: Zíjinchéng; literally: “Purple Forbidden City“). The name Zijin Cheng first formally appeared in 1576. Another English name of similar origin is “Forbidden Palace”.

The name “Zijin Cheng” is a name with significance on many levels. Zi, or “Purple”, refers to the North Star, which in ancient China was called the Ziwei Star, and in traditional Chinese astrology was the heavenly abode of the Celestial Emperor. The surrounding celestial region, the Ziwei Enclosure (Chinese: 紫微垣; pinyin: Zǐwēiyuán), was the realm of the Celestial Emperor and his family. The Forbidden City, as the residence of the terrestrial emperor, was its earthly counterpart. Jin, or “Forbidden”, referred to the fact that no one could enter or leave the palace without the emperor’s permission. Cheng means a city.

Today, the site is most commonly known in Chinese as Gùgōng (故宫), which means the “Former Palace”. The museum which is based in these buildings is known as the “Palace Museum” (Chinese: 故宫博物院; pinyin: Gùgōng Bówùyùan).

History


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The Forbidden City as depicted in a Ming dynasty painting

When Hongwu Emperor’s son Zhu Di became the Yongle Emperor, he moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing, and construction began in 1406 on what would become the Forbidden City.

Construction lasted 14 years and required more than a million workers. Material used include whole logs of precious Phoebe zhennan wood (Chinese: 楠木; pinyin: nánmù) found in the jungles of south-western China, and large blocks of marble from quarries near Beijing. The floors of major halls were paved with “golden bricks” (Chinese: 金砖; pinyin: jīnzhuān), specially baked paving bricks from Suzhou.

From 1420 to 1644, the Forbidden City was the seat of the Ming dynasty. In April 1644, it was captured by rebel forces led by Li Zicheng, who proclaimed himself emperor of the Shun dynasty. He soon fled before the combined armies of former Ming general Wu Sangui and Manchu forces, setting fire to parts of the Forbidden City in the process.

By October, the Manchus had achieved supremacy in northern China, and a ceremony was held at the Forbidden City to proclaim the young Shunzhi Emperor as ruler of all China under the Qing dynasty. The Qing rulers changed the names on some of the principal buildings, to emphasise “Harmony” rather than “Supremacy”, made the name plates bilingual (Chinese and Manchu), and introduced Shamanist elements to the palace.

In 1860, during the Second Opium War, Anglo-French forces took control of the Forbidden City and occupied it until the end of the war. In 1900 Empress Dowager Cixi fled from the Forbidden City during the Boxer Rebellion, leaving it to be occupied by forces of the treaty powers until the following year.

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The East Glorious Gate under renovation as part of the 16-year restoration process

After being the home of 24 emperors – 14 of the Ming dynasty and 10 of the Qing dynasty – the Forbidden City ceased being the political centre of China in 1912 with the abdication of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. Under an agreement with the new Republic of China government, Puyi remained in the Inner Court, while the Outer Court was given over to public use, until he was evicted after a coup in 1924. The Palace Museum was then established in the Forbidden City in 1925. In 1933, the Japanese invasion of China forced the evacuation of the national treasures in the Forbidden City. Part of the collection was returned at the end of World War II, but the other part was evacuated to Taiwan in 1948 under orders by Chiang Kai-shek, whose Kuomintang was losing the Chinese Civil War. This relatively small but high quality collection was kept in storage until 1965, when it again became public, as the core of the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, some damage was done to the Forbidden City as the country was swept up in revolutionary zeal. During the Cultural Revolution, however, further destruction was prevented when Premier Zhou Enlai sent an army battalion to guard the city.

The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 by UNESCO as the “Imperial Palace of the Ming and Qing Dynasties”, due to its significant place in the development of Chinese architecture and culture. It is currently administered by the Palace Museum, which is carrying out a sixteen-year restoration project to repair and restore all buildings in the Forbidden City to their pre-1912 state.

In recent years, the presence of commercial enterprises in the Forbidden City has become controversial. A Starbucks store that opened in 2000 sparked objections and eventually closed on 13 July 2007. Chinese media also took notice of a pair of souvenir shops that refused to admit Chinese citizens in order to price-gouge foreign customers in 2006.

On November 8, 2017, President of the United States Donald Trump was the first US President to be granted a state dinner in the Forbidden City since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Description


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The Forbidden City viewed from Jingshan Hill

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The Forbidden City is a rectangle, with 961 metres (3,153 ft) from north to south and 753 metres (2,470 ft) from east to west. It consists of 980 surviving buildings with 8,886 bays of rooms. A common myth states that there are 9,999 rooms including antechambers, based on oral tradition, and it is not supported by survey evidence. The Forbidden City was designed to be the centre of the ancient, walled city of Beijing. It is enclosed in a larger, walled area called the Imperial City. The Imperial City is, in turn, enclosed by the Inner City; to its south lies the Outer City.

The Forbidden City remains important in the civic scheme of Beijing. The central north–south axis remains the central axis of Beijing. This axis extends to the south through Tiananmen gate to Tiananmen Square, the ceremonial centre of the People’s Republic of China, and on to Yongdingmen. To the north, it extends through Jingshan Hill to the Bell and Drum Towers. This axis is not exactly aligned north–south, but is tilted by slightly more than two degrees. Researchers now believe that the axis was designed in the Yuan dynasty to be aligned with Xanadu, the other capital of their empire.

Walls and Gates

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The Meridian Gate, front entrance to the Forbidden City, with two protruding wings

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The northwest corner tower

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The Gate of Supreme Harmony

The Forbidden City is surrounded by a 7.9 metres (26 ft) high city wall and a 6 metres (20 ft) deep by 52 metres (171 ft) wide moat. The walls are 8.62 metres (28.3 ft) wide at the base, tapering to 6.66 metres (21.9 ft) at the top. These walls served as both defensive walls and retaining walls for the palace. They were constructed with a rammed earth core, and surfaced with three layers of specially baked bricks on both sides, with the interstices filled with mortar.

At the four corners of the wall sit towers (E) with intricate roofs boasting 72 ridges, reproducing the Pavilion of Prince Teng and the Yellow Crane Pavilion as they appeared in Song dynasty paintings. These towers are the most visible parts of the palace to commoners outside the walls, and much folklore is attached to them. According to one legend, artisans could not put a corner tower back together after it was dismantled for renovations in the early Qing dynasty, and it was only rebuilt after the intervention of carpenter-immortal Lu Ban.

The wall is pierced by a gate on each side. At the southern end is the main Meridian Gate (A). To the north is the Gate of Divine Might (B), which faces Jingshan Park. The east and west gates are called the “East Glorious Gate” (D) and “West Glorious Gate” (C). All gates in the Forbidden City are decorated with a nine-by-nine array of golden door nails, except for the East Glorious Gate, which has only eight rows.

The Meridian Gate has two protruding wings forming three sides of a square (Wumen, or Meridian Gate, Square) before it. The gate has five gateways. The central gateway is part of the Imperial Way, a stone flagged path that forms the central axis of the Forbidden City and the ancient city of Beijing itself, and leads all the way from the Gate of China in the south to Jingshan in the north. Only the Emperor may walk or ride on the Imperial Way, except for the Empress on the occasion of her wedding, and successful students after the Imperial Examination.

Outer Court or the Southern Section

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The Hall of Supreme Harmony

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The name plate on the Hall of Supreme Harmony

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The throne in the Hall of Preserving Harmony

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The Hall of Central Harmony (foreground) and the Hall of Preserving Harmony

Traditionally, the Forbidden City is divided into two parts. The Outer Court (外朝) or Front Court (前朝) includes the southern sections, and was used for ceremonial purposes. The Inner Court (内廷) or Back Palace (后宫) includes the northern sections, and was the residence of the Emperor and his family, and was used for day-to-day affairs of state. (The approximate dividing line shown as red dash in the plan above.) Generally, the Forbidden City has three vertical axes. The most important buildings are situated on the central north–south axis.

Entering from the Meridian Gate, one encounters a large square, pierced by the meandering Inner Golden Water River, which is crossed by five bridges. Beyond the square stands the Gate of Supreme Harmony (F). Behind that is the Hall of Supreme Harmony Square. A three-tiered white marble terrace rises from this square. Three halls stand on top of this terrace, the focus of the palace complex. From the south, these are the Hall of Supreme Harmony (太和殿), the Hall of Central Harmony (中和殿), and the Hall of Preserving Harmony (保和殿).

The Hall of Supreme Harmony (G) is the largest, and rises some 30 metres (98 ft) above the level of the surrounding square. It is the ceremonial centre of imperial power, and the largest surviving wooden structure in China. It is nine bays wide and five bays deep, the numbers 9 and 5 being symbolically connected to the majesty of the Emperor. Set into the ceiling at the centre of the hall is an intricate caisson decorated with a coiled dragon, from the mouth of which issues a chandelier-like set of metal balls, called the “Xuanyuan Mirror”. In the Ming dynasty, the Emperor held court here to discuss affairs of state. During the Qing dynasty, as Emperors held court far more frequently, a less ceremonious location was used instead, and the Hall of Supreme Harmony was only used for ceremonial purposes, such as coronations, investitures, and imperial weddings.

The Hall of Central Harmony is a smaller, square hall, used by the Emperor to prepare and rest before and during ceremonies. Behind it, the Hall of Preserving Harmony, was used for rehearsing ceremonies, and was also the site of the final stage of the Imperial examination. All three halls feature imperial thrones, the largest and most elaborate one being that in the Hall of Supreme Harmony.

At the centre of the ramps leading up to the terraces from the northern and southern sides are ceremonial ramps, part of the Imperial Way, featuring elaborate and symbolic bas-relief carvings. The northern ramp, behind the Hall of Preserving Harmony, is carved from a single piece of stone 16.57 metres (54.4 ft) long, 3.07 metres (10.1 ft) wide, and 1.7 metres (5.6 ft) thick. It weighs some 200 tonnes and is the largest such carving in China. The southern ramp, in front of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, is even longer, but is made from two stone slabs joined together – the joint was ingeniously hidden using overlapping bas-relief carvings, and was only discovered when weathering widened the gap in the 20th century.

In the south west and south east of the Outer Court are the halls of Military Eminence (H) and Literary Glory (J). The former was used at various times for the Emperor to receive ministers and hold court, and later housed the Palace’s own printing house. The latter was used for ceremonial lectures by highly regarded Confucian scholars, and later became the office of the Grand Secretariat. A copy of the Siku Quanshu was stored there. To the north-east are the Southern Three Places (南三所) (K), which was the residence of the Crown Prince.

Inner Court or the Northern Section

The Inner Court is separated from the Outer Court by an oblong courtyard lying orthogonal to the City’s main axis. It was the home of the Emperor and his family. In the Qing dynasty, the Emperor lived and worked almost exclusively in the Inner Court, with the Outer Court used only for ceremonial purposes.

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The Palace of Heavenly Purity

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Water spouts drain rainwater from upper level platforms on which the principal halls are built.

At the centre of the Inner Court is another set of three halls (L). From the south, these are the Palace of Heavenly Purity (乾清宮), Hall of Union, and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. Smaller than the Outer Court halls, the three halls of the Inner Court were the official residences of the Emperor and the Empress. The Emperor, representing Yang and the Heavens, would occupy the Palace of Heavenly Purity. The Empress, representing Yin and the Earth, would occupy the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. In between them was the Hall of Union, where the Yin and Yang mixed to produce harmony.

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The throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity

The Palace of Heavenly Purity is a double-eaved building, and set on a single-level white marble platform. It is connected to the Gate of Heavenly Purity to its south by a raised walkway. In the Ming dynasty, it was the residence of the Emperor. However, beginning from the Yongzheng Emperor of the Qing dynasty, the Emperor lived instead at the smaller Hall of Mental Cultivation (N) to the west, out of respect to the memory of the Kangxi Emperor. The Palace of Heavenly Purity then became the Emperor’s audience hall. A caisson is set into the roof, featuring a coiled dragon. Above the throne hangs a tablet reading “Justice and Honour” (Chinese: 正大光明; pinyin: zhèngdàguāngmíng).

The Palace of Earthly Tranquility (坤寧宮) is a double-eaved building, 9 bays wide and 3 bays deep. In the Ming dynasty, it was the residence of the Empress. In the Qing dynasty, large portions of the Palace were converted for Shamanist worship by the new Manchu rulers. From the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, the Empress moved out of the Palace. However, two rooms in the Palace of Earthly Harmony were retained for use on the Emperor’s wedding night.

Between these two palaces is the Hall of Union, which is square in shape with a pyramidal roof. Stored here are the 25 Imperial Seals of the Qing dynasty, as well as other ceremonial items.

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The Nine Dragons Screen in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity

Behind these three halls lies the Imperial Garden (M). Relatively small, and compact in design, the garden nevertheless contains several elaborate landscaping features. To the north of the garden is the Gate of Divine Might.

Directly to the west is the Hall of Mental Cultivation (N). Originally a minor palace, this became the de facto residence and office of the Emperor starting from Yongzheng. In the last decades of the Qing dynasty, empresses dowager, including Cixi, held court from the eastern partition of the hall. Located around the Hall of Mental Cultivation are the offices of the Grand Council and other key government bodies.

The north-eastern section of the Inner Court is taken up by the Palace of Tranquil Longevity (寧壽宮) (O), a complex built by the Qianlong Emperor in anticipation of his retirement. It mirrors the set-up of the Forbidden City proper and features an “outer court”, an “inner court”, and gardens and temples. The entrance to the Palace of Tranquil Longevity is marked by a glazed-tile Nine Dragons Screen. This section of the Forbidden City is being restored in a partnership between the Palace Museum and the World Monuments Fund, a long-term project expected to finish in 2017.

Religion

Religion was an important part of life for the imperial court. In the Qing dynasty, the Palace of Earthly Harmony became a place of Manchu Shamanist ceremony. At the same time, the native Chinese Taoist religion continued to have an important role throughout the Ming and Qing dynasties. There were two Taoist shrines, one in the imperial garden and another in the central area of the Inner Court.

Another prevalent form of religion in the Qing dynasty palace was Buddhism. A number of temples and shrines were scattered throughout the Inner Court, including that of Tibetan Buddhism or Lamaism. Buddhist iconography also proliferated in the interior decorations of many buildings. Of these, the Pavilion of the Rain of Flowers is one of the most important. It housed a large number of Buddhist statues, icons, and mandalas, placed in ritualistic arrangements.

Surroundings

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Location of the Forbidden City in the historic centre of Beijing

The Forbidden City is surrounded on three sides by imperial gardens. To the north is Jingshan Park, also known as Prospect Hill, an artificial hill created from the soil excavated to build the moat and from nearby lakes.

To the west lies Zhongnanhai, a former royal garden centred on two connected lakes, which now serves as the central headquarters for the Communist Party of China and the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. To the north-west lies Beihai Park, also centred on a lake connected to the southern two, and a popular royal park.

To the south of the Forbidden City were two important shrines – the Imperial Shrine of Family or the Imperial Ancestral Temple (Chinese: 太廟; pinyin: Tàimiào) and the Imperial Shrine of State or Beijing Shejitan (Chinese: 社稷壇; pinyin: Shèjìtán), where the Emperor would venerate the spirits of his ancestors and the spirit of the nation, respectively. Today, these are the Beijing Labouring People’s Cultural Hall and Zhongshan Park (commemorating Sun Yat-sen) respectively.

To the south, two nearly identical gatehouses stand along the main axis. They are the Upright Gate (Chinese: 端门; pinyin: Duānmén) and the more famous Tiananmen Gate, which is decorated with a portrait of Mao Zedong in the centre and two placards to the left and right: “Long Live the People’s Republic of China” and “Long live the Great Unity of the World’s Peoples”. The Tiananmen Gate connects the Forbidden City precinct with the modern, symbolic centre of the Chinese state, Tiananmen Square.

While development is now tightly controlled in the vicinity of the Forbidden City, throughout the past century uncontrolled and sometimes politically motivated demolition and reconstruction has changed the character of the areas surrounding the Forbidden City. Since 2000, the Beijing municipal government has worked to evict governmental and military institutions occupying some historical buildings, and has established a park around the remaining parts of the Imperial City wall. In 2004, an ordinance relating to building height and planning restriction was renewed to establish the Imperial City area and the northern city area as a buffer zone for the Forbidden City. In 2005, the Imperial City and Beihai (as an extension item to the Summer Palace) were included in the shortlist for the next World Heritage Site in Beijing.

Symbolism

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Imperial roof decoration of the highest status on the roof ridge of the Hall of Supreme Harmony

The design of the Forbidden City, from its overall layout to the smallest detail, was meticulously planned to reflect philosophical and religious principles, and above all to symbolise the majesty of Imperial power. Some noted examples of symbolic designs include:

  • Yellow is the color of the Emperor. Thus almost all roofs in the Forbidden City bear yellow glazed tiles. There are only two exceptions. The library at the Pavilion of Literary Profundity (文渊阁) had black tiles because black was associated with water, and thus fire-prevention. Similarly, the Crown Prince’s residences have green tiles because green was associated with wood, and thus growth.
  • The main halls of the Outer and Inner courts are all arranged in groups of three – the shape of the Qian triagram, representing Heaven. The residences of the Inner Court on the other hand are arranged in groups of six – the shape of the Kun triagram, representing the Earth.
  • The sloping ridges of building roofs are decorated with a line of statuettes led by a man riding a phoenix and followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes represents the status of the building – a minor building might have 3 or 5.
  • The Hall of Supreme Harmony has 10, the only building in the country to be permitted this in Imperial times. As a result, its 10th statuette, called a “Hangshi”, or “ranked tenth” (Chinese: 行十; pinyin: Hángshí), is also unique in the Forbidden City.
    The layout of buildings follows ancient customs laid down in the Classic of Rites. Thus, ancestral temples are in front of the palace. Storage areas are placed in the front part of the palace complex, and residences in the back.

Collections


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Palace Museum exhibits on display in the corridor connecting the Hall of Literary Glory and the Hall of Main Respect

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Two Qing dynasty “blue porcelain” wares

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A blue and white porcelain vase with cloud and dragon designs, marked with the word “Longevity” (寿), Jiajing period of Ming dynasty

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Bathing Horses (section) by Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322)

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Equestrian painting of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1735–1796) by Giuseppe Castiglione

The collections of the Palace Museum are based on the Qing imperial collection. According to the results of a 1925 audit, some 1.17 million pieces of art were stored in the Forbidden City. In addition, the imperial libraries housed a large collection of rare books and historical documents, including government documents of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

From 1933, the threat of Japanese invasion forced the evacuation of the most important parts of the Museum’s collection. After the end of World War II, this collection was returned to Nanjing. However, with the Communists’ victory imminent in the Chinese Civil War, the Nationalist government decided to ship the pick of this collection to Taiwan. Of the 13,491 boxes of evacuated artefacts, 2,972 boxes are now housed in the National Palace Museum in Taipei. More than 8,000 boxes were returned to Beijing, but 2,221 boxes remain today in storage under the charge of the Nanjing Museum.

After 1949, the Museum conducted a new audit as well as a thorough search of the Forbidden City, uncovering a number of important items. In addition, the government moved items from other museums around the country to replenish the Palace Museum’s collection. It also purchased and received donations from the public.

Today, there are over a million rare and valuable works of art in the permanent collection of the Palace Museum, including paintings, ceramics, seals, steles, sculptures, inscribed wares, bronze wares, enamel objects, etc. A new inventory of the Museum’s collections was conducted between 2004 and 2010. Subsequently, the Palace Museum was shown to hold a total of 1,807,558 artefacts and includes 1,684,490 items designated as nationally protected “valuable cultural relics.” At the end of 2016, the Palace Museum held a press conference, announcing that 55,132 previously unlisted items had been discovered in an inventory check carried out from 2014 to 2016. The total number of items in the Palace Museum collection is presently at 1,862,690 objects.

Ceramics

The Palace Museum holds 340,000 pieces of ceramics and porcelain. These include imperial collections from the Tang dynasty and the Song dynasty, as well as pieces commissioned by the Palace, and, sometimes, by the Emperor personally. The Palace Museum holds about 320,000 pieces of porcelain from the imperial collection. The rest are almost all held in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and the Nanjing Museum.

Painting

The Palace Museum holds close to 50,000 paintings. Of these, more than 400 date from before the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368). This is the largest such collection in China. The collection is based on the palace collection in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The personal interest of Emperors such as Qianlong meant that the palace held one of the most important collections of paintings in Chinese history. However, a significant portion of this collection was lost over the years. After his abdication, Puyi transferred paintings out of the palace, and many of these were subsequently lost or destroyed. In 1948, many of the works were moved to Taiwan. The collection has subsequently been replenished, through donations, purchases, and transfers from other museums.

Bronzeware

The Palace Museum’s bronze collection dates from the early Shang dynasty. Of the almost 10,000 pieces held, about 1,600 are inscribed items from the pre-Qin period (to 221 BC). A significant part of the collection is ceremonial bronzeware from the imperial court.

Timepieces

The Palace Museum has one of the largest collections of mechanical timepieces of the 18th and 19th centuries in the world, with more than 1,000 pieces. The collection contains both Chinese- and foreign-made pieces. Chinese pieces came from the palace’s own workshops, Guangzhou (Canton) and Suzhou (Suchow). Foreign pieces came from countries including Britain, France, Switzerland, the United States and Japan. Of these, the largest portion come from Britain.

Jade

Jade has a unique place in Chinese culture. The Museum’s collection, mostly derived from the imperial collection, includes some 30,000 pieces. The pre-Yuan dynasty part of the collection includes several pieces famed throughout history, as well as artefacts from more recent archaeological discoveries. The earliest pieces date from the Neolithic period. Ming dynasty and Qing dynasty pieces, on the other hand, include both items for palace use, as well as tribute items from around the Empire and beyond.

Palace Artefacts

In addition to works of art, a large proportion of the Museum’s collection consists of the artefacts of the imperial court. This includes items used by the imperial family and the palace in daily life, as well as various ceremonial and bureaucratic items important to government administration. This comprehensive collection preserves the daily life and ceremonial protocols of the imperial era.

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In the East Glorious Gate

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In the West Wing of the Meridian Gate

Influence


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A gilded lion in front of the Palace of Tranquil Longevity

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Glazed building decoration

The Forbidden City, the culmination of the two-thousand-year development of classical Chinese and East Asian architecture, has been influential in the subsequent development of Chinese architecture, as well as providing inspiration for many artistic works. Some specific examples include:

Depiction in art, film, literature and popular culture

The Forbidden City has served as the scene to many works of fiction. In recent years, it has been depicted in films and television series. Some notable examples include:

  • The Forbidden City (1918), a fiction film about a Chinese emperor and an American.
    The Last Emperor (1987), a biographical film about Puyi, was the first feature film ever authorised by the government of the People’s Republic of China to be filmed in the Forbidden City.
  • Forbidden City Cop (1996) a Hong Kong wuxia comedy film about an imperial secret agent
  • Marco Polo a joint NBC and RAI TV miniseries broadcast in the early 1980s, was filmed inside the Forbidden City. Note, however, that the present Forbidden City did not exist in the Yuan dynasty, when Marco Polo met Kublai Khan.
  • The 2003 real-time strategy game Rise of Nations depicts the Forbidden City as one of the great wonders of the world; in terms of game mechanics, it functions identically to a major city and provides additional resources to the player.

Live Performance concert venue

The Forbidden City has also served as a performance venue. However, its use for this purpose is strictly limited, due to the heavy impact of equipment and performance on the ancient structures. Almost all performances said to be “in the Forbidden City” are held outside the palace walls.

  • In 1997, Greek-born composer and keyboardist Yanni performed a live concert in front of the Forbidden City the first modern Western artist to perform at the historic Chinese site. The concert was recorded and later released as part of the Tribute album.
  • Giacomo Puccini’s opera, Turandot, the story of a Chinese princess, was performed at the Imperial Shrine just outside the Forbidden City for the first time in 1998.
  • In 2001, the Three Tenors, Plácido Domingo and José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti, sang in front of Forbidden City main gate as one of their performances.
  • In 2004, the French musician Jean Michel Jarre performed a live concert in front of the Forbidden City, accompanied by 260 musicians, as part of the “Year of France in China” festivities.

Great Wall of China

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger and stronger, are collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built in 220–206 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. The Great Wall has been rebuilt, maintained, and enhanced over various dynasties; the majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

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Apart from defense, other purposes of the Great Wall have included border controls, allowing the imposition of duties on goods transported along the Silk Road, regulation or encouragement of trade and the control of immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means of smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.

The Great Wall stretches from Dandong in the east to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. A comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that the Ming walls measure 8,850 km (5,500 mi). This is made up of 6,259 km (3,889 mi) sections of actual wall, 359 km (223 mi) of trenches and 2,232 km (1,387 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers. Another archaeological survey found that the entire wall with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196 km (13,171 mi). Today, the Great Wall is generally recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history.

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Contents
1 Names
2 History
2.1 Early walls
2.2 Ming era
2.3 Foreign accounts
3 Course
4 Characteristics
5 Condition
6 Visibility from space
6.1 From the Moon
6.2 From low Earth orbit
7 Gallery

Names


The collection of fortifications known as the Great Wall of China has historically had a number of different names in both Chinese and English.

In Chinese histories, the term “Long Wall(s)” (長城, changcheng) appears in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian, where it referred to both the separate great walls built between and north of the Warring States and to the more unified construction of the First Emperor. The Chinese character 城 is a phono-semantic compound of the “place” or “earth” radical 土 and 成, whose Old Chinese pronunciation has been reconstructed as *deŋ. It originally referred to the rampart which surrounded traditional Chinese cities and was used by extension for these walls around their respective states; today, however, it is much more often the Chinese word for “city”.

The longer Chinese name “Ten-Thousand Mile Long Wall” (萬里長城, Wanli Changcheng) came from Sima Qian’s description of it in the Records, though he did not name the walls as such. The ad 493 Book of Song quotes the frontier general Tan Daoji referring to “the long wall of 10,000 miles”, closer to the modern name, but the name rarely features in pre-modern times otherwise. The traditional Chinese mile (里, lǐ) was an often irregular distance that was intended to show the length of a standard village and varied with terrain but was usually standardized at distances around a third of an English mile (540 m). Since China’s metrication in 1930, it has been exactly equivalent to 500 metres or 1,600 feet, which would make the wall’s name describe a distance of 5,000 km (3,100 mi). However, this use of “ten-thousand” (wàn) is figurative in a similar manner to the Greek and English myriad and simply means “innumerable” or “immeasurable”.

Because of the wall’s association with the First Emperor’s supposed tyranny, the Chinese dynasties after Qin usually avoided referring to their own additions to the wall by the name “Long Wall”. Instead, various terms were used in medieval records, including “frontier(s)” (塞, sāi), “rampart(s)” (垣, yuán), “barrier(s)” (障, zhàng), “the outer fortresses” (外堡, wàibǎo), and “the border wall(s)” (t 邊牆, s 边墙, biānqiáng). Poetic and informal names for the wall included “the Purple Frontier” (紫塞, Zǐsāi) and “the Earth Dragon” (t 土龍, s 土龙, Tǔlóng). Only during the Qing period did “Long Wall” become the catch-all term to refer to the many border walls regardless of their location or dynastic origin, equivalent to the English “Great Wall”.

The current English name evolved from accounts of “the Chinese wall” from early modern European travelers. By the 19th century, “The Great Wall of China” had become standard in English, French, and German, although other European languages continued to refer to it as “the Chinese wall”.

History


Early walls

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The Great Wall of the Qin

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The Great Wall of the Han

The Chinese were already familiar with the techniques of wall-building by the time of the Spring and Autumn period between the 8th and 5th centuries BC. During this time and the subsequent Warring States period, the states of Qin, Wei, Zhao, Qi, Yan, and Zhongshan all constructed extensive fortifications to defend their own borders. Built to withstand the attack of small arms such as swords and spears, these walls were made mostly by stamping earth and gravel between board frames.

King Zheng of Qin conquered the last of his opponents and unified China as the First Emperor of the Qin dynasty (“Qin Shi Huang”) in 221 BC. Intending to impose centralized rule and prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he ordered the destruction of the sections of the walls that divided his empire among the former states. To position the empire against the Xiongnu people from the north, however, he ordered the building of new walls to connect the remaining fortifications along the empire’s northern frontier. Transporting the large quantity of materials required for construction was difficult, so builders always tried to use local resources. Stones from the mountains were used over mountain ranges, while rammed earth was used for construction in the plains. There are no surviving historical records indicating the exact length and course of the Qin walls. Most of the ancient walls have eroded away over the centuries, and very few sections remain today. The human cost of the construction is unknown, but it has been estimated by some authors that hundreds of thousands, if not up to a million, workers died building the Qin wall. Later, the Han, the Sui, and the Northern dynasties all repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the Great Wall at great cost to defend themselves against northern invaders. The Tang and Song dynasties did not undertake any significant effort in the region. The Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties, who ruled Northern China throughout most of the 10th–13th centuries, constructed defensive walls in the 12th century but those were located much to the north of the Great Wall as we know it, within China’s province of Inner Mongolia and in Mongolia itself.

Ming Era

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The extent of the Ming Empire and its walls

The Great Wall concept was revived again under the Ming in the 14th century, and following the Ming army’s defeat by the Oirats in the Battle of Tumu. The Ming had failed to gain a clear upper hand over the Mongolian tribes after successive battles, and the long-drawn conflict was taking a toll on the empire. The Ming adopted a new strategy to keep the nomadic tribes out by constructing walls along the northern border of China. Acknowledging the Mongol control established in the Ordos Desert, the wall followed the desert’s southern edge instead of incorporating the bend of the Yellow River.

Unlike the earlier fortifications, the Ming construction was stronger and more elaborate due to the use of bricks and stone instead of rammed earth. Up to 25,000 watchtowers are estimated to have been constructed on the wall. As Mongol raids continued periodically over the years, the Ming devoted considerable resources to repair and reinforce the walls. Sections near the Ming capital of Beijing were especially strong. Qi Jiguang between 1567 and 1570 also repaired and reinforced the wall, faced sections of the ram-earth wall with bricks and constructed 1,200 watchtowers from Shanhaiguan Pass to Changping to warn of approaching Mongol raiders. During the 1440s–1460s, the Ming also built a so-called “Liaodong Wall”. Similar in function to the Great Wall (whose extension, in a sense, it was), but more basic in construction, the Liaodong Wall enclosed the agricultural heartland of the Liaodong province, protecting it against potential incursions by Jurched-Mongol Oriyanghan from the northwest and the Jianzhou Jurchens from the north. While stones and tiles were used in some parts of the Liaodong Wall, most of it was in fact simply an earth dike with moats on both sides.

Towards the end of the Ming, the Great Wall helped defend the empire against the Manchu invasions that began around 1600. Even after the loss of all of Liaodong, the Ming army held the heavily fortified Shanhai Pass, preventing the Manchus from conquering the Chinese heartland. The Manchus were finally able to cross the Great Wall in 1644, after Beijing had already fallen to Li Zicheng’s rebels. Before this time, the Manchus had crossed the Great Wall multiple times to raid, but this time it was for conquest. The gates at Shanhai Pass were opened on May 25 by the commanding Ming general, Wu Sangui, who formed an alliance with the Manchus, hoping to use the Manchus to expel the rebels from Beijing. The Manchus quickly seized Beijing, and eventually defeated both the rebel-founded Shun dynasty and the remaining Ming resistance, establishing the Qing dynasty rule over all of China.

Under Qing rule, China’s borders extended beyond the walls and Mongolia was annexed into the empire, so constructions on the Great Wall were discontinued. On the other hand, the so-called Willow Palisade, following a line similar to that of the Ming Liaodong Wall, was constructed by the Qing rulers in Manchuria. Its purpose, however, was not defense but rather migration control.

Foreign accounts

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Part of the Great Wall of China (April 1853, X, p. 41)

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The Great Wall in 1907

None of the Europeans who visited Yuan China or Mongolia, such as Marco Polo, Giovanni da Pian del Carpine, William of Rubruck, Giovanni de’ Marignolli and Odoric of Pordenone, mentioned the Great Wall.

The North African traveler Ibn Battuta, who also visited China during the Yuan dynasty ca. 1346, had heard about China’s Great Wall, possibly before he had arrived in China. He wrote that the wall is “sixty days’ travel” from Zeitun (modern Quanzhou) in his travelogue Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Travelling. He associated it with the legend of the wall mentioned in the Qur’an, which Dhul-Qarnayn (commonly associated with Alexander the Great) was said to have erected to protect people near the land of the rising sun from the savages of Gog and Magog. However, Ibn Battuta could find no one who had either seen it or knew of anyone who had seen it, suggesting that although there were remnants of the wall at that time, they weren’t significant.

Soon after Europeans reached Ming China by ship in the early 16th century, accounts of the Great Wall started to circulate in Europe, even though no European was to see it for another century. Possibly one of the earliest European descriptions of the wall and of its significance for the defense of the country against the “Tartars” (i.e. Mongols), may be the one contained in João de Barros’s 1563 Asia. Other early accounts in Western sources include those of Gaspar da Cruz, Bento de Goes, Matteo Ricci, and Bishop Juan González de Mendoza. In 1559, in his work “A Treatise of China and the Adjoyning Regions,” Gaspar da Cruz offers an early discussion of the Great Wall. Perhaps the first recorded instance of a European actually entering China via the Great Wall came in 1605, when the Portuguese Jesuit brother Bento de Góis reached the northwestern Jiayu Pass from India. Early European accounts were mostly modest and empirical, closely mirroring contemporary Chinese understanding of the Wall, although later they slid into hyperbole, including the erroneous but ubiquitous claim that the Ming Walls were the same ones that were built by the First Emperor in the 3rd century BC.

When China opened its borders to foreign merchants and visitors after its defeat in the First and Second Opium Wars, the Great Wall became a main attraction for tourists. The travelogues of the later 19th century further enhanced the reputation and the mythology of the Great Wall, such that in the 20th century, a persistent misconception exists about the Great Wall of China being visible from the Moon or even Mars.

Course


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The main sections of the Great Wall that are still standing today

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An area of the sections of the Great Wall at Jinshanling

Although a formal definition of what constitutes a “Great Wall” has not been agreed upon, making the full course of the Great Wall difficult to describe in its entirety, the course of the main Great Wall line following Ming constructions can be charted.

The Jiayu Pass, located in Gansu province, is the western terminus of the Ming Great Wall. Although Han fortifications such as Yumen Pass and the Yang Pass exist further west, the extant walls leading to those passes are difficult to trace. From Jiayu Pass the wall travels discontinuously down the Hexi Corridor and into the deserts of Ningxia, where it enters the western edge of the Yellow River loop at Yinchuan. Here the first major walls erected during the Ming dynasty cuts through the Ordos Desert to the eastern edge of the Yellow River loop. There at Piantou Pass (t 偏頭關, s 偏头关, Piāntóuguān) in Xinzhou, Shanxi province, the Great Wall splits in two with the “Outer Great Wall” (t 外長城, s 外长城, Wài Chǎngchéng) extending along the Inner Mongolia border with Shanxi into Hebei province, and the “inner Great Wall” (t 內長城, s 內长城, Nèi Chǎngchéng) running southeast from Piantou Pass for some 400 km (250 mi), passing through important passes like the Pingxing Pass and Yanmen Pass before joining the Outer Great Wall at Sihaiye (四海冶, Sìhǎiyě), in Beijing’s Yanqing County.

The sections of the Great Wall around Beijing municipality are especially famous: they were frequently renovated and are regularly visited by tourists today. The Badaling Great Wall near Zhangjiakou is the most famous stretch of the Wall, for this is the first section to be opened to the public in the People’s Republic of China, as well as the showpiece stretch for foreign dignitaries. South of Badaling is the Juyong Pass; when used by the Chinese to protect their land, this section of the wall had many guards to defend China’s capital Beijing. Made of stone and bricks from the hills, this portion of the Great Wall is 7.8 m (25 ft 7 in) high and 5 m (16 ft 5 in) wide.

One of the most striking sections of the Ming Great Wall is where it climbs extremely steep slopes in Jinshanling. There it runs 11 km (7 mi) long, ranges from 5 to 8 m (16 ft 5 in to 26 ft 3 in) in height, and 6 m (19 ft 8 in) across the bottom, narrowing up to 5 m (16 ft 5 in) across the top. Wangjinglou (t 望京樓, s 望京楼, Wàngjīng Lóu) is one of Jinshanling’s 67 watchtowers, 980 m (3,220 ft) above sea level. Southeast of Jinshanling is the Mutianyu Great Wall which winds along lofty, cragged mountains from the southeast to the northwest for 2.25 km (1.40 mi). It is connected with Juyongguan Pass to the west and Gubeikou to the east. This section was one of the first to be renovated following the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution.

At the edge of the Bohai Gulf is Shanhai Pass, considered the traditional end of the Great Wall and the “First Pass Under Heaven”. The part of the wall inside Shanhai Pass that meets the sea is named the “Old Dragon Head”. 3 km (2 mi) north of Shanhai Pass is Jiaoshan Great Wall (焦山長城), the site of the first mountain of the Great Wall. 15 km (9 mi) northeast from Shanhaiguan is Jiumenkou (t 九門口, s 九门口, Jiǔménkǒu), which is the only portion of the wall that was built as a bridge. Beyond Jiumenkou, an offshoot known as the Liaodong Wall continues through Liaoning province and terminates at the Hushan Great Wall, in the city of Dandong near the North Korean border.

In 2009, 180 km of previously unknown sections of the wall concealed by hills, trenches and rivers were discovered with the help of infrared range finders and GPS devices. In March and April 2015 nine sections with a total length of more than 10 km (6 mi), believed to be part of the Great Wall, were discovered along the border of Ningxia autonomous region and Gansu province.

Characteristics


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The Great Wall at Mutianyu, near Beijing

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Great Wall of China in tourist season

Before the use of bricks, the Great Wall was mainly built from rammed earth, stones, and wood. During the Ming, however, bricks were heavily used in many areas of the wall, as were materials such as tiles, lime, and stone. The size and weight of the bricks made them easier to work with than earth and stone, so construction quickened. Additionally, bricks could bear more weight and endure better than rammed earth. Stone can hold under its own weight better than brick, but is more difficult to use. Consequently, stones cut in rectangular shapes were used for the foundation, inner and outer brims, and gateways of the wall. Battlements line the uppermost portion of the vast majority of the wall, with defensive gaps a little over 30 cm (12 in) tall, and about 23 cm (9.1 in) wide. From the parapets, guards could survey the surrounding land. Communication between the army units along the length of the Great Wall, including the ability to call reinforcements and warn garrisons of enemy movements, was of high importance. Signal towers were built upon hill tops or other high points along the wall for their visibility. Wooden gates could be used as a trap against those going through. Barracks, stables, and armories were built near the wall’s inner surface.

Condition


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A more rural portion of the Great Wall that stretches throughout the mountains, here seen in slight disrepair

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The Great Wall of China at Badaling

While portions north of Beijing and near tourist centers have been preserved and even extensively renovated, in many other locations the Wall is in disrepair. Those parts might serve as a village playground or a source of stones to rebuild houses and roads. Sections of the Wall are also prone to graffiti and vandalism, while inscribed bricks were pilfered and sold on the market for up to 50 renminbi. Parts have been destroyed because the Wall is in the way of construction. A 2012 report by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage states that 22% of the Ming Great Wall has disappeared, while 1,961 km (1,219 mi) of wall have vanished. More than 60 km (37 mi) of the wall in Gansu province may disappear in the next 20 years, due to erosion from sandstorms. In some places, the height of the wall has been reduced from more than 5 m (16 ft 5 in) to less than 2 m (6 ft 7 in). Various square lookout towers that characterize the most famous images of the wall have disappeared. Many western sections of the wall are constructed from mud, rather than brick and stone, and thus are more susceptible to erosion. In 2014 a portion of the wall near the border of Liaoning and Hebei province was repaired with concrete. The work has been much criticized.

Visibility from space


From the Moon

One of the earliest known references to the myth that the Great Wall can be seen from the moon appears in a letter written in 1754 by the English antiquary William Stukeley. Stukeley wrote that, “This mighty wall of four score miles km] in length is only exceeded by the Chinese Wall, which makes a considerable figure upon the terrestrial globe, and may be discerned at the Moon.” The claim was also mentioned by Henry Norman in 1895 where he states “besides its age it enjoys the reputation of being the only work of human hands on the globe visible from the Moon.” The issue of “canals” on Mars was prominent in the late 19th century and may have led to the belief that long, thin objects were visible from space. The claim that the Great Wall is visible from the moon also appears in 1932’s Ripley’s Believe It or Not! strip and in Richard Halliburton’s 1938 book Second Book of Marvels.

The claim the Great Wall is visible from the moon has been debunked many times, but is still ingrained in popular culture. The wall is a maximum 9.1 m (29 ft 10 in) wide, and is about the same color as the soil surrounding it. Based on the optics of resolving power (distance versus the width of the iris: a few millimeters for the human eye, meters for large telescopes) only an object of reasonable contrast to its surroundings which is 110 km (70 mi) or more in diameter (1 arc-minute) would be visible to the unaided eye from the Moon, whose average distance from Earth is 384,393 km (238,851 mi). The apparent width of the Great Wall from the Moon is the same as that of a human hair viewed from 3 km (2 mi) away. To see the wall from the Moon would require spatial resolution 17,000 times better than normal (20/20) vision. Unsurprisingly, no lunar astronaut has ever claimed to have seen the Great Wall from the Moon.

From low Earth orbit

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A satellite image of a section of the Great Wall in northern Shanxi, running diagonally from lower left to upper right and not to be confused with the more prominent river running from upper left to lower right. The region pictured is 12 km × 12 km (7 mi × 7 mi).

A more controversial question is whether the Wall is visible from low Earth orbit (an altitude of as little as 160 km (100 mi)). NASA claims that it is barely visible, and only under nearly perfect conditions; it is no more conspicuous than many other man-made objects. Other authors have argued that due to limitations of the optics of the eye and the spacing of photoreceptors on the retina, it is impossible to see the wall with the naked eye, even from low orbit, and would require visual acuity of 20/3 (7.7 times better than normal).

Astronaut William Pogue thought he had seen it from Skylab but discovered he was actually looking at the Grand Canal of China near Beijing. He spotted the Great Wall with binoculars, but said that “it wasn’t visible to the unaided eye.” U.S. Senator Jake Garn claimed to be able to see the Great Wall with the naked eye from a space shuttle orbit in the early 1980s, but his claim has been disputed by several U.S. astronauts. Veteran U.S. astronaut Gene Cernan has stated: “At Earth orbit of 100 to 200 miles 160 to 320 km] high, the Great Wall of China is, indeed, visible to the naked eye.” Ed Lu, Expedition 7 Science Officer aboard the International Space Station, adds that, “it’s less visible than a lot of other objects. And you have to know where to look.”

In 2001, Neil Armstrong stated about the view from Apollo 11: “I do not believe that, at least with my eyes, there would be any man-made object that I could see. I have not yet found somebody who has told me they’ve seen the Wall of China from Earth orbit. … I’ve asked various people, particularly Shuttle guys, that have been many orbits around China in the daytime, and the ones I’ve talked to didn’t see it.”

In October 2003, Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei stated that he had not been able to see the Great Wall of China. In response, the European Space Agency (ESA) issued a press release reporting that from an orbit between 160 and 320 km (100 and 200 mi), the Great Wall is visible to the naked eye, even though the ISS is in low Earth orbit, not space. In an attempt to further clarify things, the ESA published a picture of a part of the “Great Wall” photographed from low orbit. However, in a press release a week later, they acknowledged that the “Great Wall” in the picture was actually a river.

Leroy Chiao, a Chinese-American astronaut, took a photograph from the International Space Station that shows the wall. It was so indistinct that the photographer was not certain he had actually captured it. Based on the photograph, the China Daily later reported that the Great Wall can be seen from ‘space’ with the naked eye, under favorable viewing conditions, if one knows exactly where to look. However, the resolution of a camera can be much higher than the human visual system, and the optics much better, rendering photographic evidence irrelevant to the issue of whether it is visible to the naked eye.

Gallery


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