An insider's resource for visiting the world's cultural capitals from our local experts. Go to Context Travel.

Beijing

Beijing

With over 20 million inhabitants, China's capital is one of the most populous cities in the world. Cycling, once the primary way of traversing the capital, is now being promoted again as an alternative to the automobile-centric lifestyle that has taken hold in China recently.

Cuisine

Cuisine

As China's capital, it's possible to find a wealth of cuisines from each of the country's provinces, including Sichuan cuisine famous for its spicy nature. Another staple of the cuisine, Sichuan pepper, provides a citrus like taste while giving a slight tingly feeling inside the mouth.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Large bronze cauldrons for fighting fires are scattered throughout the Forbidden City. Visitors often touch these cauldrons to bring themselves luck.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

This throne is located in the Palace of Heavenly Purity. Emperors of the Qing dynasty, the last imperial dynasty in China, used this throne for receiving audiences and holding meetings.

Hutong Life

Hutong Life

Hutongs, traditional alleyways, were becoming a part of Beijing's past in the name of "progress," but are now starting to be valued again and are the heart of daily life in Beijing.

Lama Temple

Lama Temple

Visitors of the Lama Temple, also known as the Yonghe Temple, perform a ritual burning of incense as an offering to the Buddha and other deities. After bowing several times with a bundle of incense held high, worshippers will then place the bundle vertically into the censers.

Incense

Incense

Rows of shops line the streets close to the Lama Temple, selling a variety of goods, but mainly incense for ritual burning inside the sacred venue.

Lama Temple

Lama Temple

Elaborate sculptures of deities and guardians fill the Lama Temple, making for a sensory experience that is visual, auditory, and olfactory.

Confucius

Confucius

Confucianism continues to hold influence in society, including military and political leaders. The Temple of Confucius in Beijing is the second largest in China and featured on our walking tour on Chinese religion.

Decorative Arts

Decorative Arts

Delicate metalwork on a door knocker inside the Confucian Temple.

CCTV Tower

CCTV Tower

Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren's design for the China Central Television Tower, once again demonstrates the capital's use of impressive architecture to display its modernization. Locals have nicknamed is "Big Underpants" for its resemblance to a pair of thermal underwear used to keep warm during the cold Beijing winters.

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Situated inside a large park south of the Forbidden City, Ming and Qing emperors visited this temple to pray for a good harvest. In fact, the Temple of Heaven was originally called the Altar of Heaven and Earth until the 16th century, when it was decided that sacrifices to heaven and earth should be separate. The nearby Circular Mound Altar was then built specifically for sacrifices dedicated to heaven.

Playing Games

Playing Games

The Temple of Heaven park is a wonderful place to see daily life in Beijing. Along the covered arcades people will play different board games, often watched by large crowds.

Dancing in the Park

Dancing in the Park

Before heading straight to the Temple of Heaven, stroll the park and enjoy seeing a variety of activities that locals enjoy - including a lot of dancing!

798 Art District

798 Art District

Created from the ashes of decommissioned military factories, artists began trickling in in the early 21st century, lured by cheap rents and large spaces. Now a polished machine, 798 attracts both international and Chinese artists and galleries.

Beijing Tokyo Art Project

Beijing Tokyo Art Project

One of the first galleries to renovate its interior and draw large scale crowds, the Beijing Tokyo Art Project promotes cultural understanding between two nations that often find themselves at odds.

National Stadium

National Stadium

Better known by its nickname "The Bird's Nest," Ai Wei Wei's National Stadium was one of the masterpieces of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Crowds continue to stroll the Olympic Park to marvel at the architecture, including the National Aquatics Center, which is just across the concourse from the National Stadium.

Summer Palace

Summer Palace

The largest royal park in China, the Summer Palace sits on almost 3 square kilometers. Largely destroyed during the Second Opium War in 1860, Empress Dowager Cixi ordered the grounds restored. This stone boat, modeled on a European style, is where she is said to have entertained and played card games. Ironically, funds for the restoration were said to have been embezzled for the funds that were to be used to build up a new imperial navy.

BeijingCuisineForbidden CityForbidden CityHutong LifeLama TempleIncenseLama TempleConfuciusDecorative ArtsCCTV TowerTemple of HeavenPlaying GamesDancing in the Park798 Art DistrictBeijing Tokyo Art ProjectNational StadiumSummer Palace

Comments

2 Comments on “Beijing in Pictures”

  1. Paul Bennett

    Great images. Is the Bird’s Nest open to the public? How does one visit?

  2. Jessica Stewart

    Yes, it definitely is open to the public and even holds a ski resort inside, so you can either just pay a smaller entrance fee and go in and visit or pay more and also go ski! The site is open 9 – 6 on weekdays and until 9:30 pm on weekends and public holidays.

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