Beijing (Chinese: 北京), sometimes romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world. The population as of 2013 was 21,150,000. The metropolis, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government, with 14 urban and suburban districts and two rural counties. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast.
Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation’s political, cultural, and educational center. It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies, and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks. The Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world by passenger traffic.
The city’s history dates back three millennia. As the last of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been the political center of the country for much of the past eight centuries. The city is renowned for its opulent palaces, temples, gardens, tombs, walls and gates, and its art treasures and universities have made it a center of culture and art in China. Encyclopædia Britannica notes that “few cities in the world have served for so long as the political headquarters and cultural centre of an area as immense as China.”
As the saying goes, one who fails to reach the Great Wall is not a true hero. Without visiting the Great Wall, no trip to Beijing or the country is complete. The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built, rebuilt and maintained between the 5th century BC and the 16th century to protect the northern borders from Xiongnu attacks during various successive dynasties.
At the heart of Beijing is the Forbidden City, home to the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties, the largest palace complex of the nation and the world. The Forbidden City also hosts the Palace Museum with imperial collections of Chinese art. The Forbidden City is, by any measure, a must-see site in Beijing.
Siheyuan (Courtyard houses) and hutong (alleys) only grow in charm as they decrease in size. Courtyard houses are typical of houses of northern China, a full embodiment of the Chinese philosophy of “the unity of man and nature.” Courtyards visitors can see today were mainly built from the Qing Dynasty to 1930s. Hutong is the most typical type of old lanes. More than 7,000 alleys are scattered throughout the city, each has a story to tell. Those narrow lanes twist through older sections and form an open-air museum where you can happily wander aimlessly for hours. To experience the old Beijing, a Hutong tour is a must.
Old Beijing is wonderful and amazing while New Beijing is fantastic and exciting. Economic reform and the preparation of the 29t Olympic Games have accelerated the pace and scale of change and outfitted the city with a sense of modernity. Present-day Beijing offers an endless mixture of theatres, discos, bars, business centers, all kinds of restaurants and shopping malls that will delight visitors.
798 Art Zone, the exhibition center of modern Chinese art, hosts the annual 798 art festival. The International Music Festival was initiated in 1998 and held in the city each year. Beijing boasts more than a hundred shopping malls, including the traditional shopping areas like Wangfujing, Qianmen Dashilan, and Xidan and the newly emerged business areas like Guomao, Oriental Xin Tian Di and Zhongguancun Square. If you search for international trade clothing, you can not miss Xiushui and Yaxiu.
Want a drink in the evening? Just find a bar and relax. Beijing has many bar streets and bar areas with colorful neon lights calling for those bar lovers of the night. Besides drinking in a bar, visitors can go to listen to Peking Opera at night. Peking Opera is a form of traditional Chinese theatre which combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance and acrobatics. It is extremely popular in the capital and has come to be regarded as one of the cultural treasures of China.
Seven hundred yeas ago, amazed by his unbelievable description of China, people asked Marco Polo whether his stories were true. He answered: What I have told you was not even half of what I saw. Actually, what was mentioned above is only a fraction of Beijing that awaits visitors from all over the world.