Beijing: The Old and the New
When we went to Beijing, China last week for a brief visit, Ludette and I were ready to be captivated. What we got was more than we expected – we were enamored effortlessly! The cold was a very much anticipated experience, tolerable and truly enjoyable. Minus 3 degrees Celsius! Indeed, that brief sojourn would always have a special place in our hearts with Beijing being one of the most memorable places we’ve ever visited in our entire lives!
Beijing, an ancient city more than 6,000 years old – so rich in history and culture and now a modern international metropolis – is the Capital of the People’s Republic of China (one of its ancient capitals) and site of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Also known as Peking and various other names in its checkered past, it is a city that has witnessed the rise and fall of many imperial dynasties of ancient history and finding yourself in there, you can’t help feeling the excitement of being in the middle of all that history. And more so, now that it has transformed itself into a modern, fashionable and vibrant city.
Its fascinating past makes it such an awesome place to visit. Hey, this is the land of one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations! It is home to China’s most famous historical sites several of which are in the prestigious list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. These include the Forbidden City – the largest palace in the world; the Great Wall – the only man-made structure visible to the naked eye in outer space; the Tian’anmen Square – the world’s largest square, bigger than Moscow’s famous Red Square; Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, and other captivating sites which provide glimpses into this great civilization’s staggering historical wealth.
Above, one of the buildings inside the Forbidden City – the world’s biggest palace and home to Chinese ancient Emperors and family
Leading to Tian’anmen Square
Chairman Mao Zedong Memorial Hall fronting Tian’anmen Square
Tian’anmen Square – the largest public square in the world
Birds in cages along the sidewalk
The Great Wall at Badaling
Setting aside its rich history, Beijing has propelled itself to become one of the world’s modern cities. It is currently home to three (and possibly more) of the world’s Top 10 Modern Buildings!
These are the egg-shaped National Grand Theater, Beijing’s new Television Centre which takes the extraordinary form of two upside-down L’s at an impossible angle, and the National Aquatics Center or simply the “Water Cube” – a blue, bubble-membrane structure recently completed on January 28, 2008 for the Beijing Olympics.
The city’s newest architectural landmark nicknamed the “Bird’s Nest” for its evocative shape and complex structure – the main venue of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games which will open on August 8, 2008 – is likewise expected to be voted into the list of the Top 10 most modern structures.
Not to be outdone, the city’s newest airport at the Beijing Capital Airport, simply named “T3”, will open February 29, 2008. It is envisioned to be the globe’s biggest airport with its terminal over 2 miles long! Whew!
Beijing, at one time or another classified as the biggest city in the world, is simply huge and vastly spread-out. There is so much to see and do.
The “Bird’s Nest” – centerpiece of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony will take place here on 08/08/08 at precisely 08:08:08 p.m.
Beijing at night: Wangfujing, a bustling pedestrian-only shopping street
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