Best Viewing Route along the South-North Central Axis of Beijing

09/12/2014
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When you are planning to come to travel in China, Beijing is the first choice undoubtedly. There are many popular tourist attractions in Beijing, such as: Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heave, Jingshan Park, Beihai Park, Shicha Lake and Drum Tower. All of them are located at along the Central Axis of Beijing. Of course, the Great Wall, about 80km away from the downtown, is the most attractive attraction.

The central axis starts from the Yongding Gate in the south and ends at the Clock Tower in the north, about 15km. How to design a viewing route along the Central Axis of Beijing? Let’s see the popular attractions there.

Temple of Heaven Beijing

Temple of Heaven Beijing

Temple of Heaven

The best starting place of walking route for a foreign tourist is the Temple of Heaven, slightly to the east of the southern tip the axis. Here, you will be amazed to find out that it is a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design.

Covering an area of 2,730,000 square meters, the Temple of Heaven originally served as a vast stage for solemn rites performed by the emperor of the ancient time (known as the Son of Heaven), who prayed here for good harvests and sought divine clearance and atonement. It is surrounded by a long wall named as “Echo Wall” and with a gate at each compass point. Seen from the sky, the temple halls are are round and the bases are square, in accordance with the notion “Tianyuan Difang” (天圆地方), in English “Heaven is round, Earth is Square”, which reflects the mystical cosmological laws believed to be central to the workings of the universe. It is also an almost haunting balance and harmony of beauty.

Viewing Temple of Heave from the Sky

Viewing Temple of Heave from the Sky

About 2 hours strolling in the park, walk walk northward about 3km along the Axis (passing Qinian Dajie, Xixing Longjie and Qianmen Donglu) and arrive at Qianmen. Walking through Qianmen Street which is the birthplace of Peking duck and Chinese film, Tian’anmen Square leaps to your eyes.

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square is the geographical center of Beijing downtown. Covering an area of 440,000 square meters with accommodating 1,000,000 people at one time, it is the largest city square in the world. Every day, the square is the solemn and grand place for the morning raising of the national flag as the sun rises and the evening lowering as the sun goes down.

On the Square, there are many splendid and majestic attractions attracting thousands of tourists each day, such as: the towering Monument of the People’s Heroes at the center, the magnificent Tiananamen Tower in the north, the solemn Mao Zedong Memorial Hall in the south, the National Museum of China in the east, and the Great Hall of the People and the National Center for the Performing Arts -“Egg” in the west.

The Red Flag on the Tiananmen Square

The Red Flag on the Tiananmen Square

Walk through the Chang’an Street, Tiananmen, Duan Men successively, you will arrival at Wu Men, the entrance to the Forbidden City, now officially called the Palace Museum.

Forbidden City

Covering 720,000 square meters with approximately 8,700 rooms, Forbidden City is the imperial palace for 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It has 4 gates in each side: Wun Men, Shenwu Men, Xihua Men and Donghua Men. Nowadays, tourists can only enter into the Palace Museum through Wu Men and walk out through Shenwu Men. There are 4 exquisite watchtowers sitting at the corners of the wall. The rectangular palace appears extremely grand sight with the golden glazed tile, the red painted walls and the grey-white bases. We can not dwell on its details here, and all are waiting for your viewing.

The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heave are the classic tourist sites, and all travel agencies or trave companies like to arrange them in one day. If you have two days in Beijing, the sites below should not be missed in your journey.

Beijing Forbidden City

Beijing Forbidden City

Walk towards the north, passing through Shenwu Men and Jingshan QianJie, you will come to Jingshan Park.

Jingshan Park

Jingshan Park stands on the central point of the south-north axis of the Beijing City and covers an area of 230,000 square meters. At the ancient time, it was served as an imperial garden and was properly laid out under the Ming Dynasty when numerous fruit trees were planted as well as many palaces and pavilions built for the emperor to make sacrifices to his ancestors. When the autumn comes, all the leaves become red and yellow, especially maple leaves and maidenhair tree leaves. Therefore, it is now known as a good place to see red leaves in the autumn. In addition, if the weather is good, when you stand on the Jingshan Hill, you can get a panoramic view of the Forbidden City.

On the Jingshan Hill, bird's view of the Forbidden City

On the Jingshan Hill, bird’s view of the Forbidden City

Beihai Park

Situated close to Jingshan Park, Beihai Park is the one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved ancient imperial gardens in the center city of Beijing, China. The park is divided into 4 scenic areas: Qionghua Islet ( Jade Flower Islet ), Circular City, the eastern bank area and the northern bank area. But over a half part covered by water. It is a good place to have a boat cruise on the water. There are many famous attractions, such as: White Dagoba on top of the Jade Flowery Islet, Haopujian Garden, Jingxin Studio, Nine Dragons Screen, Five Dragons Pavilions, etc.

White Dagoba in Beihai Park

White Dagoba in Beihai Park

Walk along the Dianmen Street, you will arrive at the Shichahai and Drum Tower area.

Shichahai

Shichahai is divided into three lakes: Qianhai, Houhai, and Xihai. Covering an area of 1,467,000 square meters, Shichahai is surrounding places of historic interest and scenic beauty, and remnants of old-style local residences. On the street, you can taste a variety of local snacks and foods from all over the world. It is a good place for international visitors who have a choice of culinary adventure and familiar cuisines, skate on the frozen lake in winter and row a boat in summer. Tourists can also rent a rickshaw to explore the narrow and old hutongs, visit some of the Siheyuan and see how the Beijingers used to live.

Shichahai

Shichahai

Riding a Rickshaw to explore Beijing Old Hutong

Riding a Rickshaw to explore Beijing Old Hutong

Drum Tower Area

The South-North central axis ends at the Clock Tower, where bells chime in the every morning. Its neighborhood is Drum Tower where drums rataplan in the every evening. Telling the time by them played an important role in helping people live and work regularly when there was no other means to keep track of the time.

If you want to walk north to get to the Olympic Green, incl. the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube, the two main attractions, situated north of the North Fourth Ring Road.

Drum Tower

Drum Tower

Finally, there is no need to worry about getting lost when walking in Beijing. Even if you have no sense of direction and can not speak Chinese Mardarin, you can get to another attractions from one as long as you know a few landmarks, and on most of them, Chinese and English are written. Two days viewing tour along the central axis of Beijing lets you have a lifetime memory of this profound ancient capital – Beijing.

Bird's Nest in the evening

Bird’s Nest in the evening