Beijing – The “Forbidden City”

By | August 2, 2021

It is the two syllables “běi” and “jīng” that make up the name of the Chinese capital. They mean “northern capital” and are part of the East Asian tradition of calling capital cities what they are. But Beijing is just one of the many names the city was known by. It also had names such as “Beiping” (Northern Peace) or “Yanjing”, a name that is still in use and reminds of the ancient state of Yan, which existed here during the Zhou dynasty. And in the records of the Italian traveler Marco Polo it is recorded as “Cambuluc” (Khanbaliq). But since 1949 the city has been called Beijing (Peking).

This gigantic city, which will host the Summer Olympics in 2008 and in its urban entirety the size of Belgium, is the capital and one of the four great old capitals of China. It is also China’s second largest city after Shanghai, at least in terms of population. Beijing is a major transportation hub in the country, with countless rail lines, roads, highways and direct international flights, and is the political, cultural and educational center of the People’s Republic. But in economic terms, the city is still surpassed by Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The city’s architecture is fantastic, if muddled and eclectic. So three architectural types dominate the cityscape. The traditional architecture of imperial China is best represented by the massive Tian’anmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the “Forbidden City” and the Temple of Heaven and stands in stark contrast to the architectural style known as “Sino-Sov”. The latter refers to the box-shaped constructions of more recent times erected between the 1950s and the 1970s. The third building type is the sophisticated forms, especially in the Beijing CBD area. For the visitor, the amazing mélange of old and new is best opened up in the Dashanzi art district.

Short for BJ by Abbreviationfinder, Beijing is also unique in other areas. Just think of the Mandarin cuisine, the typical Beijing way of cooking, the city’s increasingly popular teahouses, which offer an enormous selection, or the metalworking technique of “Jingtailan”, which Beijing identifies as the traditional place of origin of this art. The city can also be honored as a place of knowledge. There is an unmanageable variety of colleges and universities here, above all the most famous and sought-after universities nationwide, such as the “Peking University” (Beida) founded in 1898 and the “Tsinghua University”, opened to students in 1911. Both are considered to be the top two academic institutions in all of China.

It is astonishing: Despite the turmoil of the 19th and 20th centuries, i.e. despite the damage caused by the European military intervention, the Japanese invasion of World War II and the great cultural revolution, and the ever-advancing radical urban transformation of the City, Beijing always remained a tourist attraction. Constantly enriched by visitors who come from all over the world or study here for world celebrities such as the Great Wall of China that stretches over the northern part of Beijing or the Summer Palace, the city of 7.5 million has remained a lively kaleidoscope full of attraction.

Beijing Forbidden City

Information that applies to China, e.g. currency, entry requirements, health issues, etc., can be found under China.

Name in Chinese Běijīng Shì
Name in German Beijing
Other names Beiping (Pei-p’ing), Yanjing, Cambuluc, Khanbaliq
Country People’s Republic of China
Location Beijing is located about 100 kilometers from the Gulf of Bo Hai,
on the northwestern foothills of the North China Plain.
Landmark of the city Gugong (Imperial Palace) or Zijincheng (“Forbidden City”)
National Stadium (known as the bird’s nest)
Function of the city Capital of the People’s Republic of China
Surface 16,800 (entire administrative area) km²
Population 7.5 million (in the city)
11.5 million (in the agglomeration)
15 million (in the entire administrative area)
Ethnicities Han, Manchu, Hui and Mongols
Languages Pu Tong Hua (Mandarin) with strong regional dialect (Beijing dialect)
English should only be expected in hotels and tourist offices.
Religions Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism
National currency Renminbi (yuan) = 100 fen
Rivers Rivers flowing through are the Yongding River and the Chaobai River.
Elevations or mountains Beijing or the Metropolitan Province is surrounded by the Mongolian Plateau
and various mountains such as the Jundu Mountains and the Xishan Mountains.
The highest mountain in the city is Mount Dongling with a height of 2,303 m.
Tourist office There is no truly independent tourist office in Beijing.
Above all, the travel companies want to sell their services.
However, we recommend:China International Travel Service (CITS)
103 Fuxingmennei Dajie
Tel: 0086 – (0) 10 – 6601 1122
Tel: (Tourist Hotline): 0086 – (0) 10 – 6513 0828 and 0086 – (0) 10 – 6831 4971
Telephone code with country code 0086 – (0) 10 – subscriber number
Time compared to CET + 7 hours
(in summer + 6 hours, because the clock is not changed in China)
Line voltage, line frequency 220 volts and 50 hertz
(a world travel plug is recommended.)

Recommended trips

Great Wall of China
No building in China is better known than the Great Wall of China, a monumental bulwark that began in the 5th century and extends over 6,000 km and is built against external enemies. Its construction lasted until the 16th century. There are three good ways to see the wall from Beijing:

The first is at Badaling, which is about 70 km northwest of Beijing. Restored in 1957, the wall at this point is up to 6 meters wide and lined or interrupted by watchtowers that go back to the Ming period (1368-1644). It is an unbelievable sight to see the stone giants pull themselves over the hills. The sector was so excellently chosen for defense that it was never attacked directly. Another possibility to visit the wall is at Mutianyu. This section, 90 km northeast of Beijing, built in 1368, is about 2 km long and was restored in 1983. There are also various watchtowers here. The wall lies in a beautiful landscape along numerous elevations. Another section of the wall is located about 110 kilometers northeast of Beijing. This also came from the Ming Dynasty and has hardly been renewed so far. Only a few gun positions for cannons and certain wall barriers were restored.

Ming tombs (Ming Chao Shi San Ling)

These tombs of 13 Chinese emperors from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) are located about 50 km from Beijing City in the northwestern suburbs (Shisan ling) of Beijing and at the foot of Tianshou Mountain. The way there is picturesque, because it is lined with magnificent trees as well as lions, camels, horses and elephants made of marble. The most popular is the 180 km2 tomb of the 13th Ming emperor Wanli (1563-1620). This burial site is called Ding Ling and was started in 1584 and completed in 1590. Nearby, in Badaling, is part of the Great Wall of China.