Beijing- Capital City of China
Introduction of Beijing
Beijing, capital of the People's Republic of China, is the nation's political and cultural center. Beijing is an independently administered municipal district.
The Beijing city was originally built around the Forbidden City,which was surrounded by a chessboard of roads, including five 'ring roads', which circle the city center in concentric circles. In order to preserve the space and historic buildings around the Forbidden City, nearby buildings must remain single-storey structures, and buildings within the Second Ring Road must be no more than 30 metres in height. The First Ring Road is a mapmaker's fiction and just part of the grid around the Forbidden City. However, the second, third, fourth and fifth (opened in 2002) are multi-lane freeways.
Beijing is situated at 40 degrees north latitude and 116 degrees east longitude. It is 43 metres above sea level and 183 kilometres from the sea.
Beijing city has a whole area of 16808 sq km (about 6500 sq mi), stretching 160 kilometres from east to west and over 180 kilometres north to south. She has 18 districts and counties with Dongcheng, Xicheng, Xuanwu, Chongwen, Chaoyang, Haidian, Fengtai and Shijingshan in the surburbs and Fangshan, Mentougou, Changping, Tongxian, Shunyi, Daxing, Huairou, Miyun, Pinggu and Yianqing in the outer suburbs.
Downtown Area: 750 sq. km (290 sq. mi)
Whole City: 16,800 sq km (6552 sq mi)
Country: People's Republic of China
People: 95% Han Chinese
Main language: Mandarin (putonghua)
Time zone: GMT/UTC +8
Telephone area code: 010
Present Condition of Beijing
As China's cultural center, Beijing , with a rich culture, has over 70 institutions of higher education such as the Beijing University, Qinghua University, more than 500 scientific research institutions, as well as hundreds of newspapers and periodicals.
Tiananmen Square, stand in the city center, is a symbol of both Beijing and China. The solemn flag-raising ceremony has become a sacred daily celebration. Standing in the world's largest city square and looking far east and west up and down the Chang'an Avenue, one can see a centuries-old architectural complex standing side by side with newly-built modern-style buildings, pigeons fluttering in the blue sky, large kites flying lazily above, torrents of bicycles flooding by and tows of cars whisking along. Tian'anmen Square embodies Beijing's history and reality, arousing the awareness the while the essence of old Beijing remains splendid, the miracles created by new Beijing add to the city's brilliance.
Now, Beijing attracts world attention with its rapidly growing prosperity,and its closer links with world affairs. Through more than 40 years of construction,Beijing has changed from a consumer-city to a major city with various industries. Beijing ranks second among the top 50 cities in China in terms of comprehensive power, and is the first among the 40 best cities in China in terms of investment environment.
With China's reform and opening up, Beijing is improving urban construction on an unprecedented scale. Its speed of development is astonishing,and it brings about changes day after day. Around this graceful ancient capital, a large number of key national projects, massive infrastructure buildings and modern residential houses have sprung up. Wasteland and low, dilapidated houses are gradually disappearing,replaced by newly-built residential quarters of different styles and surrounded by greenbelts. Wide and smooth highways, magnificent overpasses and expressways link Beijing with its neighboring provinces and cities, and eye-catching green trees and gardens have made Beijing resemble a huge scroll of painting pleasing to both the eye and the mind.
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"East for the wealthy, west for the noble, north for the poor, and south for the lowly."
Each of the 20 gates had its own functions and has left many touching stories.
Zhengyangmen was the pass the Emperor used for travel to the Temple of Heaven for worshipping ceremonies. Only the imperial sedans and carriages were allowed to use the gate, while funeral ceremonies and carriages were forbidden to pass here.
The most popular carts passing Chongwenmen were those carrying liquor as distilleries were then located in the south and east of the city.
Nine inside, seven outside, four in the Imperial City is a phrase used by Beijing residents since Ming Dynasty as an aid to remembering the number of gates in the walls of their city.
Gate of Exalted Literature, South-Facing Gate or Front Gate, Gate of Universal Prowess, Mound-Forming Gate or Gate of Just Rule, Western Gate or Gate of Harmony & Righteousness, Gate of Virtuous Triumph, Gate of Peace and Stability, Eastern Gate or Gate of Upholding & Benevolence, Gate Facing the Sun or Gate of Uniformity & Affinity.
Eastern Informal Gate, Broad Canal Gate, Left Gate of Peacefulness, Gate of Eternal Stability, Right Gate of Peacefulness, Gate of Universal Peace, Western Informal Gate.
Four in the Imperial City
Gate of Heavenly Peace, Gate of Earthly Peace, Gate of Eastern Peace, Gate of Western Peace.
Introduction of the most famous gate:
Chaoyangmen was the gate of grain since it linked transportation between the Forbidden City and Tongzhou (present-day Tongxian). Tongzhou (Tongxian) which was the beginning of the Grand Canal linking Beijing and Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. Tribute grain from the south was shipped to the capital on the canal. Warehouses were built close to Chaoyangmen. Today's Nanmencang, Beimencang, Xintaicang and Lumicang were used to store rice in the past.
Xizhimen was the water gate named for its position as the gateway to Jade Spring Mountain which was the source of the imperial drinking water.
The great architect Kuei Xiang of the Ming Dynasty adopted Chinese astrology when he built the city. In the theory, the number Nine represented the divine Heaven, the number Five the Dragon and the Earth in the middle of the Universe. Under such a theory, Kuei Xiang constructed 9 gates, 5 fortresses and a platform in the shape of the Chinese character Earch in the middle of the palace. The design symbolized the Emperor's divinity of both the Nine and the Five.
Gates were also connected with walls which were used to defend Beijing. On top of the wall, special facilities in the shape of sawtooth were built to shield arrows and other weapons. Other facilities included blockades that prevented soldiers from falling down the wall. Building the walls was a costly project. It was once reported that more than 40 million bricks and great quantities of earth, lime and timber were used to wall the city.
Nowadays, Most of Beijing's city walls have been demolished. Only a few gate towers are left. The Old Beijing Mini Landscape Park presents a complete picture of the 20 city gates and walls, although in a scaled down version.
From the modern point of view, Beijing's arrangement of the axis thoroughfare and four lakes of Nanhai, Zhonghai, Beihai and Houhai is shaped like two dragons raising their heads rivaling for a pearl. We see the dragon and alarming pearl motif often repeated in ancient Chinese ceramics and elsewhere in the artifacts of Chinese antiquity. It is a deeply symbolic as well as artistically fanciful and articulated design.