Beijing is the capital of China and a place with a wealth of historical sights. The majority of these are near the historic center Tiananmen, and there is something to see whatever direction you wander from the world’s biggest square. North from the square is the glorious red-walled Forbidden City, a must-see attraction with its towering gates and magnificent halls used by 24 emperors through the ages. Today the Forbidden City is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a public museum. Also in the square is the Great Hall of the People, a huge complex used for legislative and ceremonial activities, and serves as the Chinese Communist Party’s congress. Across the road from the north gate of the Forbidden City is Jingshan Park, famous among the Chinese as the place where the last Ming Emperor hung himself from a tree. Today it is a peaceful park with picturesque walking trails.
The National Art Museum of China regularly hosts interesting exhibits of art from around China, and there are museums of contemporary art throughout the Dashanzi art district. One of the most futuristic looking buildings in China is the National Center for Performing Arts, an enormous glass and titanium structure designed by French architect Paul Andreu, which houses a concert hall, theater, and opera house.
For a break from the hustle and bustle of Beijing, a visit to Confucius Temple is a memorable experience. The temple commemorates China’s best known philosopher. Nearby the Lama Temple with its spectacular golden roof is the most important place of worship for the city’s Buddhists. But the Temple of Heaven is often considered the city’s must-see site. Founded in the first half of the 15th century, it is a combination of fine buildings and large beautiful gardens.
Beijing is estimated to have over 60,000 choices of cuisine from all parts of the world, but the most famous local dish is of course Beijing duck.