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3 Historical Site to Visit in Beijing

2016-04-28 10:25:30Share:

  This weekend is a national holiday here in China – Labor Day (劳动节 – láo dòng jié). Known more colloquially as “May Day” (五一节 – wǔ yī jié), this holiday always falls on May 1st. Actually, May 1st is International Labor Day, as it is an official holiday in over 80 countries. It's a good opportunity for friends and families to spend some quality time with each other. Here are some recommended historical sites you should pay a visit during this three-day "weekend".




  The Summer Palace in northwest suburban Haidian District in  Beijing is the largest and most complete imperial garden existing in China. It was first built in the 12th century as an imperial palace. Renovation and extension in the following several hundred years till the end of the 19th century led it into the scale we see today, and was officially named Summer Palace.


  Occupying an area of 304 hectares, the Summer Palace features hilly and water scenery. The Kunming Lake makes up four-fifths of this royal park. The Long Corridor running east-west along the lake as well as the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, the Sea of Wisdom, and the Hall of Dispelling the Clouds and Suzhou Street standing south to north on the Longevity Hill are the major scenic spots. The Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha, 41 meters high, is decorated with glazed tiles. Its walls were carved with 1,008 niches and images of Buddha. The Marble Boat at the western end of the Long Corridor is a noted structure on water. Built in 1755, the boat, having a length of 36 meters, was made completely out of marble. There is a mirror on each of its two decks to reflect lake water. Sitting before the mirror gives a feeling of sitting on the ripples of water.

3 Historical Site to Visit in Beijing During the Labor Day weekend


  Further reading:


  The Summer Palace, Best-preserved Imperial Garden in the World


  Tips for Visiting Summer Palace


  Summer Palace, Gardens of Nurtured Harmony




  Tourists can enter the palace from the North Palace Gate, the East Palace Gate, the New Palace Gate and the West Palace Gate.


  By Bus:


  Take bus 330, 331, 332, 346, 508, 579, 584, 601, 608 or 696, get off at Yiheyuan Station and then walk west to the East Palace Gate.


  Take bus 469 or 539 and get off at Yiheyuan West Palace Gate Station.


  Take bus 331, 332, 333(内), 333(外), 375, 432, 438, 498, 508, 579, 584, 594, 601, 664, 697, Te 18, Te 19, Te 6, Yuntong 106, Yuntong 114 or Yuntong 118, get off at Yiheyuanlu Dongkou Station (The Eastern End of Yiheyuan Road) and then walk west to the East Palace Gate.


  Take bus 303, 330, 331, 346, 375, 563, 584 or 594, and get off at Yiheyuan North Palace Gate Station.


  Take bus 74, 374, 437 or 952 and get off at Xin Jian Gong Men (Yiheyuan New Palace Gate) Station.


  By Subway:


  Subway Line 4: get off at Beigongmen Station (Beigongmen means the North Palace Gate); or get off at Xiyuan Station, get out of the station from Exit C2 (southwest exit) and walk west to the East Palace Gate.


  The Summer Palace was added to the world cultural heritage list in 1998.




  Also known as the Ruins of the Yuanmingyuan (the Garden of Perfection and Light), it is located northwest of Beijing and to the east of the (present-day) Summer Palace. The Garden was first constructed in the year of 1709 during the reign of the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Over the next 150 years of the Qing Dynasty, this Garden was expanded to be a large-scale Chinese emperors' private pleasure garden, covering a total area of 350 hectares (over 864 acres).


  Generally speaking, it consists of three parts - Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan (the Garden of Blossoming Spring) and Changchunyuan (the Garden of Eternal Spring). These three gardens are often referred to as one common name: Yuanmingyuan. Hundreds of scenic spots in the Garden are made up of exquisitely constructed halls, pavilions, chambers, kiosks, earth and rock hills, rivers and ponds, and exotic flowers and grasses from different parts of the country. Indeed, it embodies the essence of Chinese ancient landscape gardening.


  To be distinct from other traditional Chinese Gardens, the garden construction and horticulture of it is a harmonious blend of typical Chinese scenery and western architecture. The more famous scenic spots include, for example, the Grand Waterworks, the Throne for viewing the Waterworks and the Labyrinth. No wonder it was also called the 'garden of gardens' or the 'Versailles of the East' in Europe during that era. Furthermore, it was also an imperial museum that collected a large number of books, treasures and cultural artifacts. However, a large number of these collections were plundered by the Anglo-French Allied Forces in 1860, at the same time as the Garden was burnt down. Now, most of these historical curiosities are displayed in the other countries' museums, including the British Museum; Bibliotheque Nationale de France; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA; Oslo Museum of Applied Art and so on.


  The vast majority of the remaining scenic spots were destroyed in the 1980's, but under the due protection of the ruins, a park has been established on the ruin site. So visitors can imagine the former grandeur of it from the crumbling walls and ruins. What's more, there is also an opportunity for visitors to view the complete picture of it in its 'heyday' in the exhibition hall. The reconstruction of some of the original structures and scenic spots provides people with a lovely place to relax.

3 Historical Site to Visit in Beijing During the Labor Day weekend


  Further reading:


  Enjoy Recovery Appearance of Old Summer Palace


  [Documentary] The Old Summer Palace (Yuanming Yuan)




  By Bus:


  1. Take bus 365, 429, 432, 562, 614, 664, 681, 699, 717, 982, Te 4, Yuntong 105, Yuntong 124, and get off at Yuanmingyuan Dongmen (East Gate) Station.


  2. Take bus 365, 562, 664, 681, 982, Te4, Yuntong 105, 432, 614 and get off at Yuanmingyuan Dong Lu Station.


  3. Take bus 331, 432, 438, 498, 508, 579, 594, 601, 664, 696, 697, Te 18, Te 19, Te 6, Yuntong 124 and get off at Yuanmingyuan Nanmen (South Gate).


  By Subway:


  Subway Line 4: get off at Yuanmingyuan Station and get out of the station from Exit B (northeast exit).




  The Temple of Great Awakening, also called Temple of Enlightenment or Dajue (in Chinese) Temple, is located on the southern slope of Yangtai Mountain in the western suburb of Beijing. This temple is famous for clear springs, ancient trees, beautiful magnolias and a peaceful environment. Its construction was started in 1068 in the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) and its original name was Clear Water Temple (Qingshui Yuan in Chinese) for there was a clear spring flowing through the temple. In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the temple changed its present name. It was open to the public in 1992. Since 1997, the Magnolia Festival has been held every April as well as other exhibitions and cultural activities. In 2006, the Temple of Great Awakening was listed as an important cultural relic site under state-level protection.


  Constructed according to the mountain contour, the Temple of Great Awakening faces east, reflecting the construction arrangement of worshipping the sun by the Liao People. Covering an area of 6,000 sq meters (0.6 hectare), it is composed of temples in the middle, temporary palaces for emperors in the south and dwellings for monks in the north.

3 Historical Site to Visit in Beijing During the Labor Day weekend


  Further reading:


  Best Place to See Magnolias in Beijing


  Dajue Temple in Autumn


  Dajue Temple and the Golden Gingko Tree




  By Bus:


  Take Bus 330 or 346 from Yiheyuan (the Summer Palace) bus station to Wenquan(温泉). From there, change to Bus 633 to Dajuesi (大觉寺) or walk straight ahead for about 2km. Driving or hiring a taxi is recommended for seeing additional nearby sites not serviced by public bus routes. If you’ve not arrived by taxi, on weekdays it may be difficult to find one in the area.


  Drive Car:


  Take Badaling Expressway from Madian Qiao on North Third Ring Road, exit at Beianhe (Exit 9), turn left onto Beiqing Lu at the first stop light, head west past Sujiatuo Intersection, then follow the signs.

The Imperial Gardens