The Middle Kingdom is said to have 5,000 years of culture and these are just the places to learn about the rich history of China, whether you're interested in religion, politics, warfare or peoples.
The Old Summer Palace, known in Chinese as the "Gardens of Perfect Clarity" (Yuánmíng Yuán, 圆明园), served as a retreat for the imperial Qing court before it was looted and leveled in 1860 during the second Opium War by British and French troops under the command of James Bruce, the Earl of Elgin, in retaliation for the torture and killing of troops sent to negotiate with the Qing government. Today it is a haunting but melancholy place, with the ruins only hinting at what was once a resplendent complex of fountains,..
An excellent expression of China's imperial spirit, the Summer Palace (Yíhé Yuán, 颐和园) should be explored at leisure, even if it means setting aside a full day just to wander around soaking up the atmosphere. That said, if you're short on time, even a few hours exploring the halls, courtyards, pavilions, temples and wooded hillsides of this opulent lakeside retreat should prove a highlight of your Beijing visit. Today's Summer Palace, or "Garden of Nurtured Harmony," owes a lot to late-imperial historical..
Along with the Great Wall, the Forbidden City (Zǐjìn Chéng, 紫禁城), or "former palace" (Gù Gōng, 故宫), is one of the must-see sights in Beijing. In the afternoon sunshine, the red walls and golden roof tiles cast a glow across the vast courtyards of this symbol of China's mighty imperial past. If pressed for time, try to spend at least half a day exploring; if you have more time, consider return trips—the Forbidden City's stately spaces and myriad treasures are best lingered over. Try to avoid weekends..
Sitting well exposed to the glare of the sun, the summer experience at Potala Palace prompted the Seventh Dalai Lama (1708-1757) to have Norbulingka built, a summer palace for Lhasa’s governing officials. Each year in spring, a grand procession took the current Dalai Lama and government officials from Potala Palace to Norbulingka. Translating to “Jewel Park,” Norbulingka was centered around a walled garden and the favorite residence of the current Dalai Lama who had the New Summer Palace addition constructed as his own..
One of the most famous historical tourist attractions in Shenyang, the Shenyang Imperial Palace or Mukden Palace (known in Chinese as Shényáng Gùgōng, 沈阳故宫) was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 for its relationship to the Forbidden City in Beijing. Completed in 1636 under Abahai (Huáng Táijí, 皇太極), first emperor of the Qing Dynasty, the construction actually began under the Ming-conquering Manchu ruler Nurhaci. Covering 60,000 sq m (71,759 sq yd), the..
Situated on the southern side of Lao Shan amongst a larger Taoist complex that once housed 9 palaces, 8 temples and seventy-two nunneries, the Taiqing Palace, or Great Purity Palace, is regarded as one of the most sacred Taoist Palaces in history. Originally built in 140 B.C. during the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24 A.D.), Taiqing actually better resembles a Song Dynasty structure (960-1279 A.D.) due to renovation. Comprised of three courts (Sanguan Hall, Sanqing Hall and Sanhuang Hall) and 155 rooms,..
A palace was originally built at this site in 637 by the founder of the Tibetan Empire Songtsän Gampo, and even though none of that original structure remains, it's clear that the place had some spiritual draw because the Fifth Dalai Lama built the present-day Potala Palace (Bùdálā Gōng, 布达拉宫) in the same spot in the late 17th century. The massive palace was at one time the largest building in the world and remains a spectacular imposition to Lhasa's landscape today. It's hard to keep your eyes off the..