"Beijing - From Mao to MTV" Beijing by ravigateway

Beijing Travel Guide: 6,463 reviews and 16,200 photos

Beijing is located in the northeastern corner of China. Its city limits extend some 80km (50mi), including the urban and the suburban areas and the nine counties under its administration - in other words, it's huge. Though it may not appear so in the shambles of arrival, Beijing is a place of very orderly design. Long, straight boulevards and avenues are crisscrossed by a network of lanes. Places of interest are either very easy to find if they're on the avenues, or impossible to find if they're buried down the hutongs (narrow alleys).

The Forbidden City acts like a bull's-eye, surrounded by a network of roads, including five ring roads which cup the city centre in concentric circles. The First Ring Rd is a mapmaker's fiction and just part of the grid around the Forbidden City.

However, the Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth (opened in 2002) are multi-lane freeways. Roughly within the Second Ring Rd are the four central districts: Xicheng, Dongcheng, Chongwen and Xuanwu.

Outside the Second Ring Rd are the so-called 'suburban' (now urbanised) districts of Chaoyang (east), Fengtai (southwest) and Haidian (northwest). Then there are the 'villages' (li).

Tiantan - Temple of Heaven Park

Temple of Heaven Park is an icon of classic Ming architecture.

The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. In its overall layout and that of its individual buildings, it symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven – the human world and God's world – which stands at the heart of Chinese cosmogony, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship.

The Temple of Heaven is 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.

The symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries.

For more than two thousand years China was ruled by a series of feudal dynasties, the legitimacy of which is symbolized by the design and layout of the Temple of Heaven.

Source: whc.unesco.org

Yonghegong - Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery

Yonghegong Lamasery, a renowned lama temple of the Yellow Hat Sect of Lamaism, is situated in the northeast part of Beijing city. It was originally built in 1694 as the residence of the Qing Emperor Yongzheng before he ascended the throne and was renamed Yonghegong. After Yongzheng's death in 1735, his coffin was placed in the temple. Emperor Qianlong, his successor, then upgraded Yonghegong to an imperial palace with its turquoise tiles replaced by yellow tiles (yellow was the imperial color in the Qing Dynasty). In 1744, it was converted into a lamasery and became a residence for large numbers of monks from Mongolia and Tibet.

Once serving as an imperial palace, the layout of the temple is quite different from other temples. The main gate faces south, and on its 480-meter-long north-south axis are five main halls and annexs connected by courtyards. They include a glaze-tiled arch, Gate of Peace Declaration (Zhaotaimen), Devaraja Hall (Tianwangdian), which was formerly the entrance to Yongzheng's imperial palace, Hall of Harmony and Peace (Yonghegong), Hall of Everlasting Protection (Yongyoudian), Hall of the Wheel of the Law (Falundian) and Pavilion of Eternal Happiness (Wanfuge).

Photos courtesy of Ravindran THANIKAIMONI. All copyrights reserved 2005.

  • Last visit to Beijing: May 2005
  • Intro Updated Jul 4, 2005
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