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Beijing, Beyond the Olympics

Jul 26, 2008
When the dust settles from the Beijing Olympic Games, the world will know more about this ancient capital city of China. Although the city modernized itself to welcome athletes, media and tourists, the city remains rich in historical landmarks. There's more to Beijing than the Olympics so here are the city's top tourist attractions to explore when the Games are over.

Beijing was the seat of power for various Chinese dynasties throughout history. During the Ming dynasty, the Yongle Emperor built the Forbidden City, a compound surrounded by a moat and walls to enclose some 980 buildings and the palace. It was the home for many emperors and some of their treasures survive to this day and can be seen in the Palace Museum. Due to its significance in Chinese architecture and culture, it was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Beijing also boasts another World Heritage Site in the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is an estate 294 hectares in size renowned for its landscape of gardens, lakes, pavilions and bridges. It was the refuge of peace for many Chinese royals throughout the years.

Another notable Beijing landmark that was the location of a modern day tragedy is Tiananmen Square. Situated just south of the Forbidden City, this immense square measuring 40.5 hectares, many notable events in Chinese history took place. Chief amongst them was the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989 where students and intellectuals made protests against the Chinese government. As a result, and depending on the propaganda source, 200 to 3000 protesters died between April 15 and June 4, 1989. To this day, the square remains a gathering place with other notable landmarks such as the Tiananmen Gate to the north, the national legislature known as the Great Hall of the People to the west, the National Museum of China to the east, the Monument to the People's Heroes to the south, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in the middle.

But perhaps the most famous landmark of them all is the Great Wall of China. Yes, this too is a World Heritage Site. The Great Wall measures 6,700 km in length and construction first started in 220 BC. Throughout the centuries, it has been built and rebuilt and sections of the Wall are on the outskirts of the Beijing.

The Chinese capital of Beijing truly holds a wealth of history with many more tourist attractions of temples, tombs and gardens. As the Beijing Olympic Games rolls around it will certainly add more luster to its history as well as inheriting world class modern buildings built for the Olympics. What a great blend of the old and the new. This is what makes Beijing such a great place to visit.
About the Author
Mariam Ma is a freelance writer for Olympic Blvd. Buy your Beijing Olympic souvenirs at discount prices including FUWA mascots plush dolls
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