Early morning, despite the crisp cold weather in Beijing, after grabbing a cup of coffee and breakfast, it was time to venture out again, winter clothes and all, to visit the famous landmarks in China, the Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
There are several sections which you may visit such as the Tiananmen Tower, Monument to the People’s Heroes, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, National Museum of China and you may also witness the national flag raising ceremony.
However picture taking isn’t allowed inside and only the outside of the Square is allowed for tourists. Expect a lot of people since a lot of group tours are held here and amusingly enough they are easily recognized because of the white flags they were carrying around. The other tourists are locals and foreigners traveling on their own.
You can’t bring your bags inside and since there isn’t a bag counter, you have to leave them outside so my cousin living in China offered to stay behind since she already saw the tourist spot before.One of the things you must do when you lining up to go inside Mao Ze Dong’s Memorial Hall is to offer flowers. There’s a place one you enter where tourists can offer them. Afterwards, you’ll go inside where his body is in a glass casket which you can view as you go around the room.
It reminded me so much of Philippines’ very own former President Ferdinand Marcos whose remains are kept in a museum in his hometown, Ilocos Norte. There was a controversy whether his body was real or not and this came to mind as well after seeing Ma Ze dong’s remains in China. Only they will know.
It was a quick tour and next thing you know, you’re already outside again. It felt quite short for me but it was a great experience to see it for real instead of simply hearing the stories from other people who’s been here.
As for the Tiananmen Tower, originally built in 1417 during the Ming Dynasty, it is used to announce a huge ceremony of who will become the new emperor and empress. Only royal family and aristocrats may enter the Square which serves as the entrance to the Forbidden City.
The Monument to the People’s Heroes is right in the center of the Square and it is the biggest monument in China. It has eight large relief sculptures which show how the Chinese modern history developed over the years. There are two rows of beautiful white marble railings enclosing the monument.
The Great Hall of the People was built in 1959 which serves as a meeting place for the China National People’s Congress. There are 12 marble posts wherein three parts are named the Central Hall, Great Auditorium and Banqueting Hall. The Central Hall has marble floors and crystal lamps beautifully decorate the ceiling. The Great Auditorium has a seating capacity of 10,000 while the Banqueting Hall has 5,000 seats.
The China National Museum is quite new compared to the others since it was built in 2003. One of its sections showcases books, pictures and objects primarily for the Chinese Revolutionary Museum while relics from China’s 1,700,000 years are displayed for the Chinese History Museum.
Lastly, you can witness the flag raising ceremony of the Chinese national flag but you have to wake up before sunrise and a lot of people attend this which is done everyday.
Quite a lot to see but there’s more to our adventure as we go to the Forbidden City next on our itinerary for the day.
The Forbidden City
We prepared for the long walk inside the well-known Forbidden City in Beijing and having this map in hand (you can get this at the entrance after paying the fee) is quite handy since the place is quite big.
The imperial palace was built within 14 years had 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Since the Purple Star or Polaris was believed to be the center of heaven so it was rightful for the heavenly emperor to lived in the Purple Palace and the Purple City is where he lives on earth. The name Forbidden City got it from the fact that only the emperor and other royal families can enter and live inside the palace. It’s also known as The Purple Forbidden City but usually it’s shortened to The Forbidden City.
And so modernly known as the Palace Museum, it is 74 hectares so imagine how vast it is and wearing the right kind of shoes matters. One of the features I loved the most were the intricate designs of the ceilings of each temples. Each one has its own unique design more grandiose than the next.
Also there is a gate believed to be lucky if you touch it especially if its your first time seeing it. Yes we rubbed our hands on the golden round part of the gate because it won’t hurt to try it and well perhaps it did brought us luck in different ways.
Inside some of the temples are museums which has antiques from different dynasties and the artworks are amazing and truly these pictures doesn’t justify them. Definitely, you’ll learn a thing or two from visiting these museums inside the Forbidden City. A personal favorite of mine is this wooden Buddha sculpture. It is truly an example of good craftsmanship!
When you go outside each temple, the artwork doesn’t end as you can see jars, dragons and other amazing features that will make your mouth drop. It’s endless and so much history comes with each one that you come across with until the end of the Forbidden City.
At the end of the Forbidden City, there’s a huge garden with beautiful trees and the noticeable unique thing about them are the patterns on each trunk. It’s quite a breather and depart to see greeneries from seeing the rest of the temples and museums before reaching this part of the Forbidden City.
So this caps our day at this popular tourist spots in Beijing. Hopefully you learned a thing or two after reading the Part 3 of our trip to China.
Watch out for the next installment about visiting the quiet city of Hebei in China. You may also read the Part 3: The Great Wall of China Adventure in Beijing at The HodgePodge Lifestyle.
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