Beijing Tourist Attractions
The Forbidden City and sections of the Great Wall are undoubtedly Beijing's greatest tourist attractions, delighting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year with their beauty and grandeur.
The Forbidden City was once the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties, China's ruling families. It takes more than an afternoon to explore the 980 buildings and hidden alleys of this huge complex. Its magical architecture and artistic interiors are among the finest examples of Chinese culture and heritage.
The Forbidden City served as imperial palace from the beginnings of the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty and was built between 1406 and 1420. Located right in the heart of Beijing, the Forbidden City no longer houses dancers, courtiers, concubines and princes, but the Palace Museum. For nearly 500 years, China's emperors and their households had their official residence at this palace complex.
A World Heritage Site since 1987, UNESCO listed the Forbidden City as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. The Palace Museum houses splendid examples of artifacts from the entire period of the Ming to Qing Dynasties, on whose collections the museum's own exhibits are based. Part of the enormous collection was transferred to the National Palace Museum in Taipei.
The palace complex and museum can be reached by Subway Line 2 - Tian An Men East Station is the closest.
Also close by is the National Grand Theater, located at Xicheng District, No. 2 West Chang An Avenue, a short walk from Tian An Men Square. French architect Paul Andreu designed this extraordinary glass and titanium dome structure which emerges from a sheet of water like craft from out space that has been dropped into the center of Beijing.
For tourists who prefer Beijing tourist attractions that offer a little adventure, there is a trip to Si Ma Tai, a section of the Great Wall that is not as over-run the heavily restored section at Badaling. For even more adventure and amazing views as well as a chance to work off all that wonderful Chinese food from the day before there's an 8 km hike from the far more authentic Great Wall section at Si Ma Tai to Jin Shan Ling, although it does require a certain amount of fitness!
A number of tour operators offer trips to the Great Wall at Si Ma Tai, too and local tour agencies typically help with self-drive car hire, if asked nicely. This section of the Great Wall is located in Miyun County, which is about 120 kilometers northeast of Beijing. Access hours are between 8 am and 5 pm daily.
Other Beijing tourist attractions include the amazing array of splendid markets and shopping centers the city has to offer. One of the most interesting from a tourist point of view can be found at Silk Street Market, which can be reached via Subway Line 1 - YongAnLi Station.
Shoppers not too fussy about authentic labels can bargain hunt for "designer" jeans, shirts, jackets, watches, gifts, souvenirs and paintings at incredibly low prices. The market is located in the Chaoyang District of Beijing at No. 8 Xiushui East Road.
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