DAY 1: Beijing, China Beijing, China’s massive capital, has history stretching back 3000 years. Yet it’s known as much for its modern architecture as its ancient sites such as the grand Forbidden City complex, the imperial palace during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Nearby, the massive Tiananmen Square pedestrian plaza is the site of Mao Zedong’s mausoleum and the National Museum of China, displaying a vast collection of cultural relics. This week we will visit this city that eleven and one half million people call home and look at its past and where it is today.
DAY 2: The Forbidden City In 1404, the Emperor Yongle ordered that a new capital city be built in the location of Cambaluc, which he renamed Beijing. From 1404 until 1420, workers worked night and day to construct the fabulous new city.
Protected by massive walls, and lined with beautiful buildings, parks and streets, Beijing was among the most elaborate and comfortable cities in the world. Deep within Beijing was a smaller city, surrounded by walls and by a moat. This city was called the Forbidden City, and was the home of the Emperor and his family.
The Forbidden City consisted of thousands of acres and dozens of palaces, with many thousands of elaborately decorated rooms. This estate was rarely visited by anyone who was not a member of the royal family.
Later Ming emperors never left the city and rarely attended to their responsibilities, but instead opted to live out their lives in comfort within their forbidden city. This allowed corruption to enter the government without the knowledge of the emperors, and led to economic and civil problems within China and houses many of the treasures of past dynasties.
Today many tourists visit the Forbidden City and its many buildings. There is much to see! There are even decorated domed ceilings. The largest museum in Beijing is also found inside the palace of the Forbidden City. It is, perhaps, the best museum in China.
DAY 3: the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium The Beijing National Stadium is one of the most imposing stadiums in the world. The people of Beijing renamed it “The Bird’s Nest” for the complex geometry of the outer façade.
The stadium was built especially for the 2008 Olympic Games. It had a total spectator capacity of 91 000 but was reduced to 80 000 after the Olympic event.
The design came from the idea of a single thread wrapped round a ball. Layers of logical geometry give the appearance of randomness and an organic shape. Multiple pentagrams in the interlocking fabric of the elliptical structure are like the stars of the Chinese flag.
The Bird's Nest hosted the opening ceremony, athletic events, the soccer final and the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, which took place from August 8 to August 24, 2008. It was also the venue for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics athletics and ceremonies from September 6 to September 17, 2008. The stadium continues to host international and domestic sporting events.
DAY 4: Modern Beijing There are thousands of historic buildings in Beijing, a city with over 3,000 years of history, and the cityscape is changing with each passing day. Today Beijing is also a very modern city with modern buildings pointing to the future. Let's look at some of the best known!
National Indoor Stadium
Beijing International Airport Terminal 3
National Aquatic Center - Water Cube
Beijing South Railway Station
National Center for the Performing Arts
Sci-tech Redevelopment Building
DAY 5: Pollution in Beijing No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo.
Pollution in Beijing is horrible. On December 1st of this year, hundreds of factories were shut down by authorities and children were allowed to miss school on the third day of a heavy episode of pollution which shrouded Beijing. The thick blanket of smog was more than 25 times above health guidelines and covered a large swathe of northern China.
Parents on Chinese messaging app Wechat passed around images of the edges of their windows covered in sticky tape as they attempted to block the smog from entering their homes. The pollution also closed highways around the Chinese capital and caused scores of flights to be cancelled. Officials have vowed to fight a “war on pollution”, but it remains a major source of anger in Beijing which is regularly blanketed by smog.
Controlling pollution will continue to be major concern for Beijing as it seeks ways to solve the problem.