About Alicia L
Lives in Beijing, China
Since Jun. 2015
Architectural Buildings, History Museums, Speciality Museums
Historic Sites, Monuments & Statues
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Forbidden City (also Palace Museum) is where the emperors lived and governed the country. It is now open to the public where people can see the traditional palace architecture and its treasures (such as The Hall of Clocks and Watches, and a stupendous collection of antique timepieces from around the world,) and learn of the stories of the imperial family and the court. It is the largest and best-preserved group of palaces in China. There is a daily limit to the number of visitors, so do go online to book tickets ahead of time; however, bear in mind that the site only supports Chinese language.
This is final resting place of Chairman Mao where his body was embalmed and put on display after his death. The mausoleum is located at the southern end of Tiananmen Square, making it easy to pay a visit to Mao and then see the surrounding area. It is interesting to go and see how deferential Chinese visitors are as they pay their respects and lay flowers for Mao. You'll see slogans of reverence in both halls of the Mausoleum.
The National Museum of China houses an impressive collection of art and history.Though politicized, the permanent exhibition 'The Road to Rejuvenation,' tells the history of modern China from its decline at the end of the Qing Dynasty to the history of the Republic of China between 1912 to 1949, and then to the founding of the People’s Republic of China by the Communist Party.
Close to Tiananmen Square, going south towards Qianmen, is the China Railway Museum. Four stories high, it tells the history of the development of China’s Railway system from 1876 to modern day, including its current high-speed network. China’s railway network is the second longest network in the world, with plans by the central government to build more as the country continues to urbanize. Less visited by foreign tourists, there is little English-language information available, but plenty of railway artifacts and photos to make this an interesting quick visit.
Over four stories, the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall displays several replicas of Beijing. Although it does showcase some history of Beijing’s development, the exhibits focus more on the modern day development of Beijing and its projected city development over the next few years, including its green initiatives. There are English-language 3D and 4D shows on Beijing’s urban development at various times during the day. The 3D model of Beijing at a scale of 1:750 depicts what Beijing will look like in 2020 and is definitely quite cool to see. You can also see the expansion of Beijing’s subway system, and a 1:1000 scale bronze model of Beijing at the end of the revolution in 1949 mounted on a wall.
Less frequently visited than the Palace Museum and National Museum, but containing just as impressive a collection, is the Capital Museum, located by the west Third Ring Road. It contains a large collection of ancient porcelain, bronze, calligraphy, painting, sculptures, jade, and statues from imperial China and other Asian cultures. As the current building is fairly new, having only moved there in 2006, the museum has many new and interactive technology installed. Despite the museum having over 200,000 cultural relics in its collection, only a selection is displayed at any given time. Many of the collections were found in Beijing.
The National Art Museum houses modern and contemporary Chinese art collections. Many of its artworks are made by well-known Chinese artists from the end of the 19th century till today, such as Ren Bonian, Wu Guanzhong and Qi Baishi. On weekends and public holidays, expect to see groups of primary school children sitting in front of the various paintings being guided by their art teachers to paint or draw.
The Confucian Temple is where people paid homage to Confucius during the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, while the Guozijian Museum (also known as the Beijing Imperial Academy) was an institute of the highest learning in China. Emperors in imperial China would frequently visit Guozijian to read Confucian classics. Confucius was a great thinker and educator, and is possibly the most influential person in Chinese history, with his doctrine widely taught to young children, and continues to be practiced in modern China. During the school year and periods of public exams, parents and students will come to pay their respects and wish for good results. The area inside the courtyard, where the Temple is located, is tranquil with cypress trees that are hundreds of years old offering shade and peace away from the hustle and bustle often experienced in larger streets and main areas. Learn about Confucius’ life story and his influence on Chinese culture, tradition, and thinking at the Temple, which connects to Guozijian, where you can learn about the history of the imperial examination.