Like millions of other people, the first time I saw Bird’s Nest Stadium (officially known as Beijing National Stadium), was during the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron in collaboration with Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, it is a very unconventional, yet strikingly beautiful building.
At a glance, it appears that structural beams go every which way but straight—the building slants at an odd angle and the roof curves at very soft angles. It can be hard to tell where the functional part of the structure begins, but if you glimpse inside the glass covered portions, you'll see all the elements of a stadium—it’s just the exterior that is so different.
To complete the look, the ground lamps that light up the sidewalks around the stadium all have gray metal lampshades in the form of a bird’s nest.
The equally unconventional looking and famed Water Cube, where Michael Phelps swam to eight gold medals, is located a short walk across an open plaza.
You can take the subway to Olympic Park though the stop is about a 20-minute walk away from the Bird’s Nest. By taxi, it took us around 30 minutes to get there from Tiananmen Square.
If you want a break from touring the historic landmarks in Beijing, or if you have a sports fan in your travel group, consider a trip to Olympic Park.