Beijing has a long history with an abundance of historical and cultural heritage that represents treasures from the city’s civilizations.
Temples and Religions
Beijing has many temples. Through them one can learn about the development of different religions in Beijing .
Tanzhe Temple, the largest of all the Buddhist temples in Beijing, has a long history dating back as early as the 3rd century AD (Jin Dynasty).
The largest Taoist temple in Beijing is the White Cloud Temple. Built during the Tang Dynasty, it was once the Taoist center of North China .
Tibetan Buddhism was introduced to Beijing before the Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD). Tibetan Buddhist temple (Lama temples) have been built in Beijing since that time. The White Dagoba Temple is one of the earliest Lama temples in existence, and dates back to the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty. The Yonghe Lamasery is the city’s largest Lama temple , serving as the upper court of the Yellow Sect Lamaism. It was built during the Qing Dynasty.
The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City is the largest and most magnificent cluster of ancient buildings in China. It is a great achievement of Chinese architecture. Built between 1406 and 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, it was residence to two dynasties of emperors, the Ming and the Qing. From the palace the emperors governed China. The construction of the Forbidden City symbolized the supremacy of emperors.
This is an imperial tomb site where 13 Ming emperors were buried. The Dingling Tomb is the second-largest tomb, and it is the first of the 13 tombs to be excavated and opened to the public. It is an example of a typical imperial tomb.
Located in a northwestern suburb of Beijing , the Summer Palace is an immense park containing some Chinese traditional architecture and arts. It was built and served as a royal garden during the Qing Dynasty. It exhibits the quintessence of the Chinese classical landscape gardening. The halls, the pavilions, the corridors, the pagodas, the bridges and the water were elaborately arranged. The long Corridor is one of the most exquisite structures in the garden. It is over 700 meters long and decorated with thousands of Chinese traditional paintings.
Tiantan (The Temple of Heaven)
The perfection of Ming architecture, Tiantan now symbolizes Beijing. It was considered highly sacred ground and it was here that the Ming and Qing emperors performed the major ceremonial rites of the year.
The Great Wall
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan Pass on the east coast of the Bohai Sea to Jiayuguan Pass in the West Bobi Desert, crossing five provinces and two autonomous regions. The undertaking was begun 2,000 years ago during the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) when China was unified under Emperor Qin Shihuang. Separate sections of the walls, constructed by independent kingdoms during the Warring States period to keep out marauding nomads, were linked up.
The Confucius Temple was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1302 AD). It is the largest in China after the one at Qufu in East China’s Shandong Province. This magnificent group of buildings shows the importance of Confucius and his philosophy.
Beijing Opera is the most popular of all the opera styles in China. It developed from classical singing and dance styles dating from the Ming Dynasty and gradually merged by the late 18th and early 19th centuries into the Beijing Opera we see today.
Acrobatics are a combination of folk art forms which started from about 2,000 years ago.
Beijing is famous for handicrafts. Well-known handicrafts produced in Beijing include cloisonné, glassware, ivory sculptures, carpets, and snuff bottles with painting inside.
Beijing’s Traditional Cuisine
Beijing has many traditional cuisine specialties, including Beijing duck, Mongolian hotpot, Muslim barbecue, and Beijing traditional folk food. Imperial and Tanjia cuisine are examples of Beijing ‘s traditional cuisine. See our Beijing cuisine and food section for more information about eating in Beijing,