Tiananmen Square (Tiananmen Square)
The square that gained notoriety on the night of June 4th 1989 when a peaceful demonstration was brutally suppressed by the government and probably 3,000 by protesters. died, is to the south of the Forbidden City and the Palace Museum. If there is a center in Beijing, it is it. The dimensions of the square, which is the largest paved square in the world with an area of 40 hectares, are so gigantic that more than a million people could easily be on it. In the middle of the square is a monument commemorating the heroes of the people and the tomb of Mao Zedong, the leading chairman of the Communist Party of China who died in 1976. The square got its present size after the communist seizure of power. In the immediate vicinity there are various sights of Beijing such as the Museum of Chinese History and Revolution (in the east) or the Great Hall of the People (in the west). In the north is the Gate of Heavenly Peace and directly behind it the Imperial Palace – also known as the Forbidden City.
Central Chinese Television Headquarters
This building is currently the most controversial and daring structure in the world. The monumental building planned by the Karlsruhe-born architect Ole Scheeren together with the Dutchman Rem Koolhaas and personally supervised by Scheeren is also considered to be one of the most sophisticated buildings of modern times. According to Scheeren, due to its complex statics, the building could not have been built a few years before the start of construction in 2002. The building consists of two inclined towers constructed in an L shape, which unite at a height of around 169 m over a 70 m long “cantilever”. Around 10,000 employees of the “Chinese State Television” (CCTV) will work in the building. Next to the towers is the new 159 m high TV cultural center (TVCC, in which the media representatives accredited for the 2008 Olympics had their place of work. Scheeren is a partner in the Rotterdam-based architecture firm von Koolhaas and partners “Rotterdam Office for Metropolitan Architecture”.
Gulou (Drum Tower)
The Gulou, the two-story wooden “drum tower” of Beijing, was actually built for musical reasons in 1272 during the reign of Kublai Khan. At that time it was still in the heart of the Yuan capital, Dadu, and was known as “Qizhenglou”, that is, the “Tower of the Ordinary Administration”. Later the 47 meter high gulou was used to tell the time. Of the 24 old drums, only one survived. The top floor now houses the folk culture hall of the eastern part of the city. In 1980, after extensive repairs, the tower was opened to tourists and is now a major tourist attraction. The city’s 33-meter-high bell tower is also nearby.
The city’s old observatory still bears witness to the first observatory that was built in its place in the 13th century on the orders of Kublai Khan. He connected this with the goal of correcting the calendar that was faulty at the time. Later, until the 1830s, the observatory was alternately in the hands of Muslims and then of Christians (Jesuits). Right next to the observatory there are other astronomical instruments from the Ming dynasty, a garden and a museum in which earlier, astronomically inspired pottery products and orientation tools are shown.
According to businesscarriers, Beijing is home to a vast number of universities and colleges that are spread across the entire city. Most are, however, in the Haidian District in northwest Beijing. The district is the leader with 20 universities. On the other hand, Wudaokou is seen as a lively international student district.
Three universities are briefly introduced below:
Beijing University (Beida)
Beijing University, also known as “Beida”, founded in 1898, is the most famous and important university in all of China. For every student and pupil it is a dream to study there; however, it is seldom fulfilled because the entrance exams are extremely tough. It is located in the northwestern part of Beijing, very close to the Summer Palace, and is currently home to more than 30 colleges, 12 faculties and 216 research institutes and projects.
The most important sports university in China is also located in Beijing. It is particularly popular with foreign students, who are given the opportunity to learn traditional Wushu here.
In addition to the Beida, this university, located in northwest Beijing not far from the Beida, is considered to be the best in the entire People’s Republic and consists of 20 schools and faculties. The university was founded in 1911 and is considered an elite university for (potential) officials of the Communist Party of China. The university has placed its focus on engineering.
It is located in the eastern part of the city, in the Jianguomen area, near the embassy district.
Tian Tán (Temple of Heaven)
It is located in the southern part of the Outer City, in the Xuanwu district, is surrounded by a park and is one of the most wonderful temple buildings in Beijing. It is said to be a Taoist temple, even if there are certain doubts. The temple covers 2.73 km2 and shows three main groups of constructions, all built according to strict philosophical requirements: The “Earth Mountain” is a three-story marble platform. At the top is the round, 32-meter-high Hall of the Annual Prayer, built in 1420 and rebuilt in 1890, in which the emperors used to pray every year for a good harvest and good weather. Another important building is the House of the Heavenly Lord, a circular building that was built on a single marble platform. It is supported by a wall 6 meters high and 32 meters wide, the so-called ”
Temple of the Reclining Buddha
This temple, which was built in the Tang Dynasty and has the 54-ton statue of the leaning Sakyamuni as its center, is located within the city’s Botanical Gardens, near the Magnolia Garden. There are gifts from former emperors on both sides of the statue.
Yonghegong (Lama Temple)
The largest Lamaist temple outside of Tibet was originally the “Palace of Peace and Harmony”. In 1744, under the rule of Emperor Qianlong, it was converted into this Lamaist temple and is considered the best restored temple complex in Beijing. The temple complex consists of various inner courtyards, an ornamental garden and several halls, whereby the “Wanfuge”, the “Hall of Infinite Happiness” is particularly worth mentioning because it is home to a statue about 18 meters high; this was a gift from the 7th Dalai Lama to Emperor Qianlong and was made of sandalwood; it represents the Buddha Meitreya. He is one of the temples that were built to commemorate the visit of the Dalai Lama Ngawang Lobsang Gyatso (1617-1682) in 1651.
Churches and mosques
Xuanwumen, Xizhimen, Xishiku, Wangfujing
There are many Christian churches in Beijing, the most famous and largest of which are Xuanwumen (Southern Church), Xizhimen (Western Church), Xishiku (Northern Church) and Wangfujing (Eastern Church) are.
St. Joseph’s Church
The latter is actually called St. Joseph’s Church and was built during the reign of Shunzhi in 1655. An earthquake destroyed it in 1720, but it was later rebuilt. The church was destroyed again by fire in 1807 and during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. Finally reconstructed in 1904, it is now a picturesque structure from the past, lined with children playing and Chinese photo models posing for a magazine in front of it.
Cow Street Mosque
This fascinating and largest mosque in Beijing was built in the Chinese temple style. Its history goes back to the 10th century, and it is also the final resting place of various Islamic clerics. Only devout Muslims are allowed to enter the large main prayer hall and the prayer corners for women. Meanwhile, the “building for observing the moon” (Wangyuèlóu) can be visited. The lunar calendar was calculated from there.
This is the oldest mosque in all of Beijing. It was built in 996 and completely rebuilt under the Kangxi emperors (1622-1722). The roof of the mosque represents the Chinese architecture of the Zaojing very well.