Thursday, October 30, 2008

Beijing Day 3 - Forbidden City & Olympic Green

Forbidden City
Originally uploaded by jimwink

On our third and last day in Beijing we went to the Forbidden City and the Olympic Green. The Forbidden City was built during the Ming Dynasty from 1406 to 1420. It served as the home for 24 Emperors and their families over a span of 500 years. It took over a million workers to construct the 980 surviving buildings over an area about 180 acres. The city is surrounded by a wall and a moat. The wall measures about 25ft high. The moat is about 20ft deep and 170ft wide. The dirt that was removed for the moat was used to build Jingshan hill just north of the Forbidden City.

After visiting the Forbidden City we went north and climbed Jingshan hill. The view from the top was amazing. It overlooks the Forbidden City and offers a great view all around. After walking and climbing it was time for lunch. Rachel found a place in our guidebook but it looked too far to walk. We have tried several types of transportation methods while in China but this time we decided to try a rickshaw.

After lunch we headed north again, this time by taxi, to the Olympic Green to see the Bird's Nest and Water Cube. While no events were going on at the time it was amazing how much these structures have become such a tourist attraction. They were absolutely beautiful and must have been amazing while the games were here. Next stop - Xi'an

Click on the photo to see the rest.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beijing Day 2 - Great Wall

Great Wall
Originally uploaded by jimwink

On our second day in Beijing we set out for the Great Wall. It is about an hour and a half drive from where we were staying. We leave the hotel at 7:00 in the morning and pick up a few other people who signed up for the same tour that we did. After gathering everyone together we head north to the Simatai section of the wall.

The Simatai section is about 5km (3 miles) long and has 35 beacon towers. Each tower would accommodate between 10-20 soldiers. If any tower or part of the wall was attacked they would start a signal fire. Other towers seeing the fire would also start a fire and then join to defend the wall. In a very short amount of time several hundred warriors could be summoned to help.

The Simatai section was constructed under the supervision of Qi Jiguang, a famous general in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Also it is said that this is the only part of the Great Walls that still has the original appearance of the Ming Dynasty.

After spending a couple of hours there(not long enough but we were with a tour. Next time we will hire a driver), we went back to town and had the bus drop us off near Tiananmen Square. It was hard to say if there were fewer people but it was neat to see at night.

Click on the picture to see the rest.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Beijing Day 1 - Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven
Originally uploaded by jimwink

After checking into our hotel and grabbing a quick lunch at a nearby restaraunt, we decided to try and visit something close by. Our hotel was on the south side of Beijing and the nearest tourist attraction was the Temple of Heaven. Just a twenty minute walk.

The temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty, to offer sacrifices to the heavens. It was built larger than the Forbidden City because the Emperors of the time believed they were the sons of heaven so the Temple of Heaven must be larger in size.

The Temple of Heaven is enclosed by a long wall. The northern part is in a semi-circle shape representing the heavens, while the southern part was built square to represent the earth. The northern part is also higher in elevation also emphasizing that it was closer to the heavens.

Click on the photo to see more pictures from the Temple of Heaven.