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Beijing's Imperial Sites

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An ancient observatory, a heavenly temple, the Forbidden City... Even in view of China's rapid economic rise in the last three decades, the wealth and technological prowess of the imperial dynasties remain stunning. Many of these sites are massive, so plan to do lots of walking.
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Most big cities in China, of sufficient age and with sufficient mind to preserve the old, have a bell tower and a drum tower. Usually, these are in the town square or somewhere nearby. In Beijing, they are located on the city's famous center line...
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1 Tiantan E Rd, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China
This complex of Taoist religious buildings was constructed in the early 15th century under the Yongle Emperor, who also commissioned the Forbidden City, just to the north. The temple's central building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a...
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13 Guozijian St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100011
The Imperial College is where Chosen scholars (who had already passed the county and provincial examinations) would go to study for the national and palace examinations. As a teacher living in Beijing, I find China educational history fascinating;...
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4 Jingshan Front St, Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China, 100006
Beijing's number one tourist attraction is a massive former imperial palace known as the Forbidden City. Between 1416 and 1911, it was home to 24 Ming and Qing dynasty emperors and their families and staff. In 1912, after the abdication of...
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19 Xinjiangongmen Rd, Haidian Qu, China, 100000
The present-day Summer Palace is China's largest royal park and was once called the Garden of Cultivated Harmony. It took its current name when Empress Dowager Cixi, in a controversial action, used some money earmarked for the navy and rebuilt the...
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Changchi Rd, Changping Qu, China
The Ming Tombs are 31 miles northwest of Beijing. The cemetery covers an area of 40 sq. kilometers with 13 Ming emperors buried here. This is a popular UNESCO attraction in China and easily combined with visiting Badaling Great Wall for a day trip...
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2 Dongbiaobei Hutong, JianWai DaJie, Dongcheng Qu, China, 100005
This is great sight if you're interested in astronomy, science, ancient technology, the meeting of East and West, or you just need a break from the noise and crowds. The observatory was built in the Yuan Dynasty (1239-1368 AD). It was put to great...