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Great Wall (Changcheng) The Great Wall of China

Over the centuries, a mind-boggling structure to human ambition, the Great Wall of China was built by consecutive dynasties to prevent invasion from horse-riding nomads from the north. Countless peasants and soldiers spent years helping build the Wall, and untold numbers gave their lives for the project. The Wall winds its seemingly endless way for over 4,000 miles from the Yellow Sea east and north in the Gobi desert. Although crumbling in some places, in recent years the Great Wall has been restored in sections to its original splendor. The breathless scenery from its heights and its grand history have made the Wall one of the top tourist attractions in the world.
Built in a timeframe stretching over two millennia, the Great wall isn't actually one structure but a collection of many defensive installations.

Walk - Tiananmen Square to Liulichang Antiques Market - South of the Forbidden City viewed from its Tiananmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) is the famous Tiananmen Square. Here from a balcony Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China. The square has been made large enough to hold a million people so that large rallies could be held. In 1989 student demonstrations took place here, and when the army tried to break up the demonstrations, many deaths resulted. Luilichang is a street of antique shops restored to their original style to the delight of tourists. Much tempting merchandise--antiques, art, souvenirs--can be bought here, but browsing is half the fun. Sights we'll see on this walk include the Great Hall of the People, the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, the Front Gate, the Facing the Sun Gate, Glazed Tile Factory Street, the Coal Market, and we'll pass by the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of Chinese Revolution, and the Guanfu Classical Art Museum.

Walk - Forbidden City - Home to 24 emperors from 1368 to 1911, the Forbidden City was built in the center of Beijing surrounded by 30-foot high walls and by a wide moat. No structures in outer Beijing was allowed to be built higher than the walls, and no ordinary people were allowed to enter the Forbidden City. Inside its 8,706 rooms lived almost 10,000 people including eunuchs, servants, concubines and families of the emperors. The fabulous treasures of the Forbidden City, which are great in number and craftsmanship, have miraculously survived through the ages. While on this walk we will see the Meridian Gate, the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Complete Harmony , the Hall of Preserving Harmony, the Hall of Jewelry , the Hall of Clocks and Watches, the Inner Palace, and the Imperial Gardens .

Bashang Grasslands

Located in Inner Mongolia, Bashang grasslands are in the heart of the beautiful and large nomadic grassland region. It is an ideal site to escape the city’s summer heat. Students can go horseback riding, go camping, watch local wrestling competitions, enjoy roast whole sheep and other plain foods. Visiting here is a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of Beijing.  

Walk-Muslin Quarter

One of Beijing's oldest neighborhoods is occupied by Han Chinese who are of the Muslin faith. This area is located southeast of Luilichang and has kept its distinct character despite the march of time. Exploring the narrow streets and visiting famous landmarks (like the Fayuansi-Source of Law Temple, the Ox Street Mosque, and Southern Cross Street West) make a memorable experience.

Walk - North and East of the Forbidden City Part I - 

We'll visit a series of parks, each distinct in its own way. Prospect Hill Park (Jingshan Gongyuan) is just north of the Forbidden City and is an artificial hill which was made with dirt taken from the palace moats. From the top of this park there is an especially good view of the Forbidden City. North Lake Park (Beihai Gongyuan) is the site of the former winter palace of Kubai Khan. Of note is a giant Buddhist shrine. Qianhai Lake Park (Qianhai Gongyuan) and Houhai Lake Park (Houhai Gongyuan) are sites of stalls similar to farmers' markets. A row of antique shops and curio shops are also found here. We'll pass by Soong Ching-ling's Former Residence (Song Qing-Ling Guju). This was where the wife of Sun Yat-sen lived. She was considered an avid supporter of the Communist revolution. Prince Gong's Palace Gongwangfu, one of the grandest imperial complexes was once the residence of Prince Gong. It was believed to be the inspiration of the great classic novel "The Dream of the Red Chamber".

Walk - North and East of the Forbidden City Part II -

The Drum Tower (Gulou) faces the imperial palace, and once large drums sounded to announce the closing of the city gates at night and to advise citizens of the passing of the night watch. Just as its name implies, the Museum of Antique Currency (Zhanlanguan) has old Chinese coins on display. There are also coin dealers in the courtyard. We pass the Temple of Earth Park (Ditan Gongyuan) where in olden days the emperor made sacrifices to the Earth God. Lama Temple (Yonnghegong) has five impressive halls and is noted for its many Tibetan Buhhda statues. Temple of Confucius (Kong Miao) is dedicated to the great, wise Confucius. Next a stop at the Imperial Academy (Guozijian). This was an ancient prestigious acadamy and later on a center for Confucian studies where scholars studied before taking imperial exams.

Marco Polo's Bridge (Lugouqiao) - 

This ancient bridge was once praised by Marco Polo and that's how it got it's name. This impressive span across the Yongding River lies ten miles southwest of Beijing and is the city's oldest bridge. It was built in 1192 and reconstructed after severe flooding during the Qing dynasty. Once part of the imperial highway that linked Beijing to central China, the bridge has handrails with close to 
500 stone-carved lions. In 1937 the Japanese defeated Chinese soldiers by this bridge 
and many years of Japanese occupation followed.

13 Ming Tombs (Ming Shisanling)

 North of Beijing, nestled between hills to the north, east, and west, lie the tombs of 13 of the 16 Ming emperors. Two of the tombs are especially impressive. One is of Yongle, the third Ming emperor who moved the capital city to Beijing and picked out the site. He planned a magnificent tomb for his own final resting place. The other is of the 13th emperor, Ding Ling, whose tomb is the only one that has been excavated

Jietai Temple (Jietaisi)-

This ancient Buddhist temple west of Beijing has always been one of China’s most famous temples and was built up to its present size in the 1400’s during the Ming era. Besides impressive buildings and beautiful gardens, the temple houses three majestic bronze Buddhas. Many people from Beijing make weekend trips to Jietai Temple to pay their respects.


Day trip: Visit the legendary Terracotta Warriors. This site was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages. After enjoying the Terracotta Warriors, students will visit Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which is a well-preserved ancient building and a holy place for Buddhists. The Tang Dynasty Show will be the program for the evening.

Visit the Provincial History Museum, a striking Tang-Dynasty style pavilion, which houses a large collection of 113,000 historic and cultural artifacts unearthed in Shaanxi. Then the City Wall, the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.
Visit Forest of Stone Steles Museum. With 900 years’ history, this treasure house holds a large collection of the earliest stone steles of different periods, from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Visit the imperial Garden of Tang Dynasty--Huaqing Hot Spring.
The day starts with a morning visit to Banpo Village Remains. Students will be shown the Yangshao Culture of the Neolithic Age. After lunch, the tour continues with visits to Daxingshan Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in China, and to Farmers’ Caves.

More About Our Trip to Beijing - Each summer we lead a group of our students to this city.  Please click to learn more about our specific itinerary. 

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