Beijing, the mysterious and historical capital of China, has a history that stretches back over three millennia and is home to numerous UNESCO protected marvels including the Forbidden City, Mao Zedong’s tomb, the Winter Palace and the Great Wall. Beijing is the cultural, political and educational centre of China with over three million visitors coming to the city every year, but there are many secrets to be uncovered by travellers who knows where to look.
A Challenging Adventure: The Great Wall Marathon
The Beijing marathon which, incredibly, is run on the Great Wall of China, boasts some of the most stunning scenery in the world. You might end up out of breath, not because 5,164 steps you have to run, but because the surroundings are truly jaw-dropping. The marathon has attracted adventure-seekers every May since its beginnings in 2009, all of whom are looking to have fun and take part in a totally unique experience. You’ll feel like an emperor as you enter the lower valley section to be greeted by cheering villagers!
An Ancient Way of Life: Tanzhe Temple
It is said that the mysterious Tanzhe Temple is older than Beijing itself, but whatever the truth, the temple is at least the one of the oldest in the area and helped introduce Buddhism to the Chinese around 1,700 years ago. Most of the existing historical buildings date from the Ming and Qing dynasties, but there are pagodas dating from the Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties as well. Kublai Khan’s daughter is said to be buried here and you can find indentations on the Guanyin Hall’s stone floor where she knelt and prayed every day.
An Intriguing and Iconic Landmark: Tiananmen Square
The image of a man tightly holding onto his shopping bags while blocking the path of a government tank on Tiananmen Square is one of the truly iconic images of the 20th Century. Things have changed since then and no trip to Beijing is complete without taking in the sights of Beijing’s most famous square. Take a peek at Chairman Mao’s mausoleum, watch the daily raising and lowering of the flag at sunrise and sunset or simply soak up the atmosphere – Tiananmen Square is too historic to miss.