The quintessential Wall of China is one of the most visited sites in the country of China. The section that is usually visited by most tourists is the first part, which has a completely rebuilt wall and is closest to the center of Beijing. But there is a more rustic side of the wall: The Simatai section. This stretch has a unique landscape for two reasons: One, is the lack of people, since its conditions and remoteness is not very visited, and the other reason is its status: The wall remains how it was, with no reconstructions or additions . This gives a special touch to the place, given the fact that seeing the Great Wall completely reconstructed is like seeing the Roman Colosseum in its entirety. It is highly recommended for those who want to see things as they were and do not mind walking in-between rubble.
The name Forbidden City is derived from the rule that only the emperors and their court could enter the premises, with the exception of a select students who received the highest scores on a national exam (the "Emperor's Exam")and could enter the city for one day to share their knowledge with the emperor and his advisors. Not even the emperor himself could leave the city except on special occasions since the city was equipped to cover every need.
After the communist revolution, the emperor was expelled from the Forbidden City and the grounds became public property of the People's Republic of China. Knowing this historical transformation is important to understand the grandiosity of the Forbidden City. And when I say grandiosity, I mean it in every sense of the word.
The city covers about 1 square kilometer and there are over 800 buildings housing 9,000 rooms in the interior, comprising the largest group of ancient wooden buildings in the world. So, if you visit, make sure to go with comfy clothes, water, food, and above all, patience. It's not a place you can just rush through.
It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is one of the most-visited places on Earth.
It's easy to get there by subway, just get off at the Tiananmen Dong stop (Tiananmen East, in English).
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is located on the grounds of the Temple of Heaven and was built in 1530 during the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty. It's notable for its striking color and the shape of its roof. It was used in ancient times by the Chinese emperors to pay homage to their ancestors. With a height of 19.2 meters and a diameter of 15.6, it's smaller than the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, which is the main building in the complex and one of the most recognizable symbols of the Chinese capital.
When we arrived on the first day in Shanghai, we were surprised that it was so modern. We had just arrived from Sydney and our stay in Shanghai was totally different. Although we knew it would be very cold, we knew that Shanghai was worth a visit. Early in the morning we took a walk along the Malecon or Shnaghai Bund in the cold and there were many Chinese people with photography posts so that you can have your picture taken. We observed the two parts of Shanghai - one futuristic and the other which has a very French style, with classic Renaissance buildings. One of the most important buildings on this side of the Malecon is one of the most prominent buildings is the Pudong Development Bank, along with the Peace Hotel - a building with a green pyramid roof which is the building of the Shanghai Customs and the Bank of China. The tour lasts about 30 minutes. Continue reading and looking at the photos at: http://www.rutasfotograficaszaragoza.com/
Beijing's legendary Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the world. It is one of the places where you can really "feel" the history. With 440,000 square meters and 880 meters long by 500 wide, this square was conceived by China's Communist government in 1949 in order to hold political acts on a grand scale. It is located beside the also famous Forbidden City. Some of its most important sights are Mao Zedong's masoluem, where the embalmed body of the former communist leader now lies, the obelisk that honors the People's Heroes, the National Assembly or the Museum National History and the Revolution. You must take a photo with the famous portrait of Mao which stands at the doorway to the Forbidden City! In 1989, this square witnessed the famous, massive demonstrations which were suppressed by tanks from the People's Liberation Army.
This impressive building, which houses the palace which was once used as a summer residence of Chinese emperors, is one of the most visited monuments of Beijing. To visit and see everything you'll have to spend at least all morning doing it, because there seems to be not only an infinite number of buildings, but also forests, temples, gardens, hills and lakes. There are always many tourists, especially Chinese ones ve come from other parts of China, but for being so big you will not feel too overwhelmed like what can happen in places like the Forbidden City. Chinese emperors fled here in the summer when the heat was scorching, to situated in the northwest of the city. In its original design there was a real garden, but in the 18th century it was extended, now including Lake Kunming. The last reform that took place was started in 1949, but it was damaged by natural disasters.
There's an entire life-sized army built in terracotta. Each soldier is different from the next and they're all modeled after real soldiers from the army of China's first emperor. Archers, officers, cavalry...all lined up in these large trenches dug up only a few years ago. Originally, they were painted, but once they were uncovered and came into contact with the air, the color faded. Many of them remain buried in the hopes that advancements in technology will allow the color to be preserved.
It is the main area of the celebration of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and is now one of the most emblematic places of the city. It is located to the north, and is easily accessible by metro. I recommend going at sunset to see it lit, but beware that you aren´t too late because I think at 21 or 22 they close the premises. Here you can see great works of modern architectures such as the Water Cube Beijing Olympic Stadium, better known as the nest.
This is a continuation of my trip to Shanghai. In October 2008 I was fortunate enough to travel to Shanghai to attend a conference. This, added to the fact that I was traveling alone, gave me lots of free time over the five days that I was there, and I took the opportunity to wander and lose myself in the small alleyways away from the tourists. This allowed me to take some snapshots that are rarely seen in the travel brochures. Specifically, this is a collection of night shots. I hope you enjoy them.
Yuyuan Gardens is a must-see in Shanghai. It is located in the old part of the city, on the west bank of the Huangpu River, not far from the Bund. The entrance is located on Anren street. It is recommended to visit first thing in the morning during the week if possible, as on the weekend it is one of Chinese families' favorite spots for taking a walk. The gardens have all the characteristics of a typical Chinese garden, including lakes, round doors, red painted wooden bridges , houses with pointed roofs, weeping willows, red lanterns, decorations of artificial rocks, red fish, dragons, temples dedicated to Buddha, etc., all in an area equivalent to the size of four football fields. They are from the time of the Ming dynasty, in the sixteenth century, and took two decades to finish. The most visited sites are the two white jade Buddhas, which are located on the second floor and worth $17 million, the hall of Three Wheat Stalks, and the Jade Rock. Included in the entrance fee of 10 yuan or 1 euro, is a tea ceremony and a tasting of any of the 10 different teas offered. I chose the Gingsen to re-energize after the several hours I spent in the gardens.
It was my 2nd day in Beijing, from the 8 that were jammed with tourists and guides with a microphone, false guides, an audio guide sounding each time crossing a historical thing of national interest: Temple , palace, etc, and at the end of the tour I decided I was not going to ignore it. 1 morning in the Forbidden City. I left the North Gate close to my hotel, crossed the Grand Avenue and the other side I was expecting something different. A haven of peace, where, as in all city parks, you must pay admission to access, about 20 yuan, or 20 cents. On both sides of the entrance and the central artery of the Chinese park there were olde people exercising : Oriental Dances pace Seniors , tai chi, dancing and racquet ball, aerobics Chinese ... Multiple variations to keep the body limber and flexible. As I was going up the park the music group were elders who become a unison gray city on the move. I reached the highest point, one of the small hills that the park has, with bar improvised emperor costume picture, and best, overlooking the Forbidden City as far as urban haze let you see. Impressive. No wonder he was tired. He had walked about four hours into the streets and alleys of this monster and now admired him from here. It was a great time for relaxation, and the sights and sounds of Jingshan Park invited it.
The Li River, in my opinion, is the absolute best landscape in China. The Li River winds through the mountains in the Yangshuo valley, surrounded by small villages and lots of hidden corners to explore. I'd suggest sailing down the river on one of the traditional bamboo boats, especially if you can do it at sundown.
The Lama Temple is one of the most famous religious centers in Beijing. This temple was declared a National Monument in 1949 and restored in 1979. It is considered the most prestigious Buddhist temple outside of Tibet. The whole complex consists of many low buildings. There are many patios where you can burn incense. A must-see is the Maitreya Buddha that is 17 meteres high.
Driving through the back country roads at night from Guilin airport to Yangshou I could not see them.
Rising with a rooster's crow and stumbling from my room in a traditional yet restored farmhouse – now the lovely Outside Inn – I see they loom everywhere. My eyes adjust slowly to a panorama they’ve never before seen. Some resemble thick bull horns, others some kind of granite vegetable. They rise conspicuously from the ground and dot the topography of lush rice fields and slow moving rivers. Formed over millions of years ago by the earth’s crustal movements, the Karst peaks are composed of limestone sediments. Each one’s unique body a result of endless erosion and whipping winds – nature always proves to be the best artisan.
I stay in the farming community of Cho-Long a mere 4 kilmometres from the more well-known Yangshou - that famed ‘town’ sitting on the Li River. Yangshou is no longer a town: tourism and industrialization have transformed the sleepy hamlet into a thriving and bustling city. Although the city itself is pleasant to stroll through and many other excursions require a visit, Cho-Long breathes and breeds more tranquility.
One gets the impression that Cho-Long mirrors what Yangshou was: a farming community in one of the prettiest corners of the world. The narrower and quieter Yulong river – compared to the bustling Li River and its ferry boats - flows past Cho-Long through pancake-flat rice fields to even more serene and time-less villages. Concrete paths dissect the farmlands, ideally suited for bicycles or intrepid legs (bicycles may be borrowed from the Outside Inn). An idyllic swimming hole rests not 10 minutes from the Outside Inn where you can bathe and gaze adoringly at each soaring, oddly-shaped peak. In Chinese, ‘Yulong’ means ‘meeting a dragon’ and it is not difficult to imagine a row of karst peaks resembling the back or torso or head of such a mythical creature. Along the river, entrepreneurial locals try to convince you to take a ride on rafts made from striking bamboo pieces – a reminder of tourism’s growing impact.
For my money, simply meandering along the river, past farmhouses and rice fields and over ancient bridges is the best way to enjoy this slice of Guangxi province.
We had just landed in Lhasa, capital of Tibet, and we left our hotel room ready to contemplate one of the wonders of the world: The Potala Palace, home of the mythical Dalai Lama, the highest ancient structure in Tibet, and the highest palace in the world.
We were at 3,700 meter above sea-level and the intensely-blue Tibetan sky accompanied us on our fatiguing hike towards the imposing facade of the Potala Palace. We felt a bit intimidated by the beauty of the place, so much so that our conversation eventually dropped off and we fell into silence, just admiring the massive building there before us.
Potala Palace transmits a divine and supernatural atmosphere so strong that you can't avoid it, it's like being pulled by a giant magnet. The Palace itself is 110 meters high (13 stories high!) above the Red Mountain (Hongshan) which serves as the palace's foundation. Tibetan architecture undoubtedly finds its maximum expression in this palace, and it's no wonder that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.
I was getting impatient to explore the treasures which undoubtedly lied in the over 130,000 square meters of the palace's interior. After stopping by the ticket booth, we admired the stamp left on this place by the dominant Chinese in the form of a massive square which opens to the Palace. If you visit Lhasa, please set aside an entire day to visit this wonder. It's so worth it!
The Drum Tower was originally built in the Yingxiang Temple, situated at the junction of West Street and Calle Guangji. In 1582 it was moved to its current location. It is a building with two floors. You can go upstairs and enjoy the view, looking out over the different neighborhoods. Inside the Drum Tower there is a museum about the drum. In addition, you can enjoy exhibitions on how to play the drums.
Regarded for centuries by Marco Polo as one of the most beautiful places he had ever seen in the world, this entire Lake area of Hangzhou is one of China's major tourist attractions, with spectacular scenery which is surrounded by mountains and islands and the great canal. All of this is within ta city called Hangzhou. Due to the fact that I visited in late November when the weather was at freezing temperatures I could not enjoy the visit as I would have liked, but both the lake and the park are places to spend a couple days walking through the park in nice weather. You can see the statue of the famous Marco Polo in the middle of the park.
Around the Great Mosque of Xian extends a huge market amongst a labyrinthine of streets. It's an ideal place to buy souvenirs and bargains. Very few Chinese who are in the bazaars speak English, let alone Spanish. If you don't know Chinese, getting a good price is complicated enough, but it's the most fun.