Beijing has such a rich history and many historical sites. My friend did a great job of narrowing down the most important places to visit in our trip.
We started with The Lama Temple. The Lama Temple was built in 1694 with such intricate architecture and adornments. The symmetrical layout and beautiful design made each new hall an interesting discovery.
Pictured below: spinning the Prayer Wheel, lighting incense to pray and a beautiful mandala the monks had created.
The next day we visited The Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was first built in 1750 as a place for the royal family to chill when they needed a break from ruling. It has unfortunately been damaged and destroyed a few times by war, but re-built, restored and open to the public.
We took a dragon boat across the lake to hike up to the palace.
Below is a side view of the temple and the front filled with Buddhas:
View of the grounds from the top of the temple:
The Great Wall is truly an amazing site. It is a long climb up, particularly on a hot and humid day, but SO worth the views and grandeur.
We climbed and climbed, sweated and sweated some more and finally made it to the top! It was pretty spectacular and we literally just stood quietly to take it all in.
The wall is expansive and stretches along for miles and miles. It was a beast to get to the top and on the other side, you see mountains, hills and trees. I can see how formidable it was at keeping away invaders.
The steps on the wall itself are pretty steep and harrowing. I wondered how in the heck guards navigated the wall, in all their armor and gear.
Continuing to explore and hand standing against the wall:
Once we had thoroughly explored, we decided to take the funner route down. Instead of climbing, we opted for the toboggans and slid down The Great Wall, at a much faster (and cooler) speed.
On our last full day in Beijing, we visited The Forbidden City and The Temple of Heaven.
The Forbidden City is where the Emperor lived when he was not chilling at The Summer Palace. It quite literally is a city. It is a huge establishment with various streets and corridors where different family members, advisors, wives and concubines lived.
We hiked to the top of the temple and had a pretty amazing view of not only The Forbidden City itself, but all of Beijing. Since The Forbidden City is the very center of Beijing, you were able to get a nice sense of the whole city.
Next, we visited The Temple of Heaven, where the Emperor went to pray for a good harvest. Temples are probably one of my favorite sites to explore. The architecture and colors are intriguing and impressive. I always am in awe of what beautiful work could be done without the modern conveniences and technology afforded today.
The Heavenly Center Stone:
I absolutely loved all the history of Beijing. I felt like I got such a better sense of Chinese history from Beijing as opposed to Shanghai. I felt a new appreciation for all the amazing things the Chinese have accomplished, even through war and adversity.
Even though this is not a historical site, I will leave with pictures of my visit to the cat cafe. In this cafe, I sipped tea and pet cats. It was more relaxing than I thought it would be!
I hope enjoyed my recaps of Beijing. Please check back next week as I start recapping Tokyo!