Scenes from YuanMingYuan 圆明园, BeiJing

YuánMíngYuán was the original Summer Palace in BeiJing and sometimes referred to as the 'Old Summer Palace'.

YuanMingYuan lies 8 kilometers (5 miles) northwest of central Beijing, close to the (new) Summer Palace (YíHéYuán 颐和园). It was constructed during the 18th and early 19th centuries and was a wonderland of lakes and waterways, bridges, hills and pavilions.


There were originally towers, terraces, pavilions, halls, corridors, pagodas and bridges with a total construction area of 150,000 square meters. Artisans were recruited from all over China to enact the exquisite settings.


Many of the 160 scenic spots were reproductions of famous mountains, rivers and famous gardens in China. The various styles of architecture, standing encircled by hills and streams, presented a most picturesque view.


In addition, hundreds of invaluable Chinese art masterpieces and antiquities were stored in the halls, including some unique copies of literary works and collections. YuanMingYuan was, indeed, a veritable museum of garden construction and horticulture. Known to be one of the largest museums in the world, a popular name in China was the 'Garden of Gardens'.


In 1860 during the 'Second Opium War', YuanMingYuan was looted then burned down by imperialist British and French troops. So great was the devastation that a new Summer Palace was later built nearby.


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Beijing, the capital city of China, is a vibrant metropolis steeped in history, culture, and modernity. Here's a brief overview of what you can expect as a tourist in Beijing:

Historical Landmarks:
The Great Wall of China: One of the most iconic structures in the world, the Great Wall is easily accessible from Beijing. Mutianyu and Badaling sections are popular among tourists.

Forbidden City (Palace Museum): A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this vast imperial palace complex was home to Chinese emperors for over 500 years. It houses numerous halls, courtyards, and historical artifacts.

Temple of Heaven: A masterpiece of Chinese architecture, this ancient temple complex served as a place of worship for emperors to pray for good harvests.

Summer Palace: A stunning ensemble of lakes, gardens, and palaces, the Summer Palace served as a retreat for emperors during the Qing dynasty.

Tiananmen Square: One of the largest city squares in the world, Tiananmen Square is flanked by important landmarks such as the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.

Cultural Sites:
Beijing Hutongs: Explore the narrow alleyways and traditional courtyard residences of Beijing's historic neighborhoods. You can take a rickshaw tour or simply wander around on foot.

Beijing Opera: Experience traditional Chinese opera performances at venues like the Liyuan Theater or the Chang'an Grand Theatre.

798 Art District: A hub of contemporary art and culture, this former industrial area is now home to numerous galleries, studios, and cafes.

Modern Attractions:
Olympic Park: Visit iconic structures such as the Bird's Nest (National Stadium) and the Water Cube (National Aquatics Center) from the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

CBD (Central Business District): Marvel at the futuristic skyline of Beijing's modern business district, which includes landmarks like the CCTV Headquarters and the China World Trade Center Tower III.

Culinary Delights:
Peking Duck: Indulge in Beijing's most famous dish, crispy roast duck served with pancakes, scallions, and hoisin sauce.

Street Food: Explore the city's vibrant street food scene and sample local delicacies like jianbing (savory crepes), lamb skewers, and dumplings.

Practical Tips:
Transportation: Beijing has an extensive public transportation system, including the subway, buses, and taxis. However, traffic can be heavy, so plan your travels accordingly.

Language: While English is not widely spoken, especially outside tourist areas, many signs and transportation announcements are in English. It's helpful to carry a translation app or a phrasebook.

Weather: Beijing experiences four distinct seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. The best times to visit are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is mild and comfortable.

Etiquette: Respect local customs and traditions, such as removing your shoes before entering someone's home and using both hands to pass or receive items.

Beijing offers a rich tapestry of experiences for tourists, blending ancient heritage with modern innovations. Whether you're fascinated by history, culture, or culinary delights, there's something for everyone in this dynamic city.

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