|July 28, 2007: Beijing - Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and
Temple of Heaven
After Marc and I got up, we walked downstairs where there was a nice little coffee shop in the corner
which served croissants, juice and coffee. Our guide picked picked us up in the hotel lobby at 8:45 am.
Her name was Kathrin, Chinese girl with a made-up American name.
North of Tiananmen Square is of course the Forbidden City. From Tiananmen Square, we went
through an underpass to the other side of the street and to the entrance of the Forbidden City. The
Tiananmen Gate is the main entrance to the Forbidden City. Here too, lots of people. Construction
on the Forbidden City started in 1406. From 1420 - 1644 it was the seat of the Emperors of the Ming
Dynasty and from 1644 - 1912 the Manchus controlled it. In 1987 the Forbidden City was declared a
Unesco World Heritage Site. Click here for more detailed information.
After leaving the Forbidden City at its North Entrance, we were hungry. Kathrin took us to a Hot Hot
Restaurant, the name was Man Fu Lou Restaurant. It was close to the Forbidden City. The food there
After lunch, we drove to the Temple of Heaven. This temple complex was constructed between 1406 -
1420. It was visited by the Chinese Emperors for annual ceremonies of prayers to heaven for good
harvests. The largest building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, which is 38 m tall and 32 m in
We then went back to the hotel. Our driver was picking us up again at 7 pm. We went to the Universal
Theatre to see a Chinese Acrobatics Show. It was nice, but not really spectacular and heavily
After the show, we went back to the hotel and we were really tired. Jetlag finally took its toll!
On the south side of the square is the
Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the final resting
place of Mao Zedong, Chairman of the
Chinese Communist Party from 1943 until
his death in 1976. Construction was going on
at the Mausoleum so that it can shine in all
its glory for the 2008 Summer Olympics. Not
too far from the Mausoleum is the
Monument to the Peoples Heroes, which is 38
We then walked over to the east
side of Tiananmen Square where
the National Museum of China is
located. In the center of this
building is the Olympic
We walked through the Tiananmen Gate towards the Meridian Gate. Here, Kathrin bought our
tickets. Once through the Meridian Gate, we were in the so-called Outer Court. The Forbidden City is
divided into 2 main areas, the Outer Court and the Inner Court. The Outer Court was used for
ceremonial purposes whereas the Inner Court houses the residences of the Emperor and the Empress.
Lots of construction was going on here as well in preparation for the 2008 Olympics. The Hall of
Surpeme Harmony in the Outer Court was covered under scaffoldings.
In the Inner Court, we visited the Palace of Heavenly Purity, Hall of the Union and the Palace of
Earthly Tranquility (I love those names...). As stated before, these three halls were the residences of
the Emperors and Empresses.
We then exited the Forbidden City through the Imperial Gardens and the Gate of Divine Might, which
is the Northern Entrance/Exit of the Forbidden City.
South of the Hall of Prayer is the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Both complexes are connected by the
Vermillion Steps Bridge, a 360 m long raised walkway. The Imperial Vault of Heaven is surrounded
by a smooth circular wall, called the Echo Wall. South of there is the Earthly Mount, a circular
platform on which the Emperors prayed for favorable weather.
While there, Kathrin told us a lot about the customs, emperor rituals etc., but overall, I was not too
impressed by this temple complex.
At first, we went to Tiananmen
Square, which is the largest
open urban square in the
world. It is 880 meters from
north to south and 500 meters
east to west. Along the west
side, where we got out of the
car, there is the Great Hall of
the People. This Hall is the
seat of the National People
Congress, the highest State
Body and Legislative House of
China. There were huge
crowds of people, 99.9%
Chinese tourists and the
occasional Westerner. There
was a huge line to get into the
Hall Of The People!
Hall Of The