The winter Olympic Games start on February 4. Hundreds of athletes will skate and soar on snow and ice in Beijing, China. The arenas are ready and sports stars are waiting. Before the waited moment, let’s take a look on the city that will host the action, Beijing. Keep reading to learn about the ancient capital of China.
Pin On The Map
The name Beijing, or as sometimes referred to as Peking, means “the northern capital.” The huge city is in the northern part of China. Beijing is mostly surrounded by hills and mountains from the north, northwest and west. The city’s location was the main reason it became the capital of China. Today, it’s the most populated capital in the world with around 21 million people living there.
Look in the History Book
Experts believe that humans started to live in Beijing thousands of years ago. The first walled city in the area was probably called Jicheng. This ancient city was built around 3000 years ago.
Part of China
After the unification of China, Jincheng became part of China. The city fell under many dynasties and witnessed tons of changes. Throughout hundreds of years, the city was often a capital to China due to its special location.
Throughout history, Beijing witnessed good times and bad ones. In the 14th century, the city became poor for the first time in centuries under the rule of the Ming dynasty. Its population dropped drastically. It’s believed that the city’s population fell by around 90% in just a few decades!
In the 15th century, the city saw huge projects under the rule of The Yongle Emperor. One of these projects is the Forbidden City. This massive fortress became the largest palace in the world. A million workers and more than 100.000 artists worked on that gigantic project.
The Temple of Heaven was another project that was constructed at that time. The religious complex was often visited by members of the royal family to pray to heaven for a good harvest.
Beijing, along with China, fell under many foreign powers. The last one was Japan in 1937. Japan controlled parts of china till its defeat in WWII in 1945. In 1949, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China. And Beijing became its capital.
In 2008, Beijing hosted the summer Olympics for the first time in the history of china. And Today, Beijing is still considered the political, economic and scientific center of China.
Beijing has a lot to offer to tourists. From historical buildings to stunning parks, there’s something for everyone in the northern capital. Here are our picks for 3 places you shouldn’t miss.
1. The Forbidden City
Beijing is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Forbidden City is probably the most famous one of them. The site is a palace complex at the center of Beijing. It served as the residence of the Emperor for hundreds of years. For centuries, citizens weren’t allowed to enter the site and that’s why it was called “Forbidden”. Nowadays, more than 14 million tourists visit the site every year! It’s believed that the imperial palace has 9999 rooms because only God can have 10.000 rooms in heaven!
2. Beihai Park
Take a walk from the imperial palace, you will find one of the oldest surviving imperial gardens in the city. Beihai Park was founded in the 10th century. The name of the park comes from the nearby (lake Beihai). The park is home to the Hall of enlightenment which has a marvelous Buddha statue made of a single block of white jade. At last, don’t forget to check the white pagoda “tower” which was built to honor the visit of the 5th Dalai Lama.
3. The Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is another UNESCO World Heritage center on our list. This sacred site was built in the 15th century. It has a group of temples that are divided into two sections – one rectangular and the other is semi-circular. Both sections symbolize Heaven and Earth. The Emperor used to go to the Heavenly altar to pray for a good harvest. The Temple also has the Hall of the Vault of Heaven which is famous for its blue conical roof. Finally, the echo wall echoes the quietest voices. What an experience… erience.. erience.
Take a bite
Jiaozi, or Chinese dumplings, is one of the most popular foods in Beijing. Jiaozi was originally referred to as “tender ears”. Some stories explain the origin of that name. Tales say that a Chinese doctor was walking down the streets in the winter when he found many people with frostbitten ears because they didn’t have enough food or clothes. The doctor treated his patients by stewing lamb, pepper and some warming medicines in a pot. After that, he wrapped them in dough and boiled them before giving them to his patients. People imitated this recipe and it lived on. Till that day, billions of people make Jiaozi by filling meat or vegetables into rolled pieces of dough. After that, they can be boiled, steamed or deep/pan fried. Jiaozi is often served with black vinegar and sesame oil dip.
Beijing will become the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympics in 2022! Let the games begin!