There are so many historic sites in Beijing that the most important ones require at least few days of sightseeing.
The biggest attraction is the Forbidden City - the seat of emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties dating from the fifteenth century, which is located in the centre of the capital. Its construction lasted 15 years – with 100,000 artists and artisans, as well as a million workers. It is one of the largest palaces in the world – it occupies the area 72 hectares and according to legend it has 9999 rooms. For this reason, in 1987, the Forbidden City was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Forbidden City includes, among others, imperial gardens, the private apartments of the Emperor (Palace of Eternal Spring, Unity Pavilion, Palace of Training the Mind and the Palace of Heavenly Purity), the throne room, Hall of Supreme Harmony, Hall of Central Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony , as well as several museums (Museum of Bronze, Museum of Clocks, Museum of Art). Due to the great number of rooms, tourists are not able to go through the whole complex - visiting the most important buildings and gardens requires several hours.
To the south of the Forbidden City is the Tiananmen Square – the Gate of Heavenly Peace, the largest square in the world, it is 800 meters long and 300 meters wide. Here is the mausoleum of Mao Zedong and the Monument to the People's Heroes, 38 meters high. Tiananmen Square is known for many groundbreaking political events - to this day it is a place for military parades and celebrations of the most important national holidays.
Northeast of the centre of Beijing, there is the Lama Temple with fascinating traditional Chinese architecture. It is one of the largest and most important temples of Tibetan Buddhism - the entire complex covers an area of 60,000 square meters. It is also known as the Palace of Harmony and Peace, as it was originally the residence of one of the Chinese princes, and was later converted to a temple. It comprises, inter alia, the Pavilion of Eternal Happiness, the Pavilion of the Circle of Rights, the Wanfu Pavilion, and a 18-meter statue of Buddha of the Future. It opened for visitors only in 1981 - since then every year it is visited by over a million tourists.
Taoist Temple of Heaven, situated in the southern part of the city, is yet another monument which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is one of the most important religious places of the Empire period. The whole temple complex occupies an area of 2.73 km² and belongs to the Palace of Prayer for Good Harvests with a distinctive three eaves blue roof symbolizing the sky, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Round Altar, which once housed the Throne of Heaven. Currently, the place where it stood is considered by the Chinese as the centre of the Empire and the world. According to the custom one should stand on it and stomp on, that is why every day there are crowds of people waiting for their turn.
Visitors are also greatly impressed by the Summer Palace of Chinese emperors - a vast palace complex away from the centre, built on Longevity Hill and around the Kunming lake. It occupies an area of 70 thousand m2. Around it is a park that represents garden solutions typical of Chinese culture. Nearly 70% of its area is occupied by artificial lakes. The entire complex is more than 3,000 buildings - arbours, residence, halls, etc.
Near Beijing, one can also see the portion of the Great Wall of China - one of the most important tourist attractions in the world, which ranks among the seven new wonders of the world. Its total length is not known - it is estimated that it may be about 6700 km. Currently, in the area of Beijing there are 6 major parts of this monument.
An unusual attraction for tourists, especially in winter, is a Chinese Taoyuan valley situated in Beijing, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world. In January and February its waterfalls freeze and turn into ice rock, which attracts many lovers of mountain climbing.
A visit to a Beijing hairdresser can also be a surprising experience for western tourists. The standard is that during washing the barber gives a customer a professional massage of head, neck, shoulders and back, which lasts usually one hour. During the massage the client rests in a comfortable reclining position. After an intense day of touring it guarantees a moment of relaxation!