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China is a sensual feast whose discovery requires all of your senses. Learn to cook authentic Chinese food with professional chefs, taste classic dishes and regional specialities as well as visiting the cultural icons of this great power. Marvel at the visually stunning Forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors, recall the history of Tiananmen Square, hear the wind whistle along the Great Wall, and feel the spirituality of the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda and the Jade Buddhist Temple.
In the Dongcheng District is the centre of Beijing and its most important landmark, the Tiananmen Square. It is the world's largest public square and a must see for all visitors of Beijing. The square is surrounded by grand buildings including the Great Hall of the People, the Museum of Chinese History, the Museum of the Chinese Revolution, the Qianmen Gate, and the Forbidden City.
The UNESCO heritage site of The Forbidden City is the best preserved imperial palace in China and the largest ancient palatial structure in the world. The splendid architecture of the Forbidden City represents the essence and culmination of traditional Chinese architectural accomplishment. The Palace Museum is a veritable treasure trove of Chinese cultural and historical relics.
Dating back to the 12th Century The Summer Palace is the largest and best-preserved imperial garden in China. Its Chinese name, Yi-He-Yuan, translates as 'Garden of Nurtured Harmony'. As its English name implies, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China's imperial rulers - as a retreat from the main imperial palace now known as the Palace Museum (or "Forbidden City") - a pleasure-ground in the countryside, yet near to the city.
This architectural grandeur was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. The Great Wall winds across deserts, grasslands, mountains, and plateaus, stretching more than eight and half thousand kilometers from east to west. Some of the sections are now in ruins or have disappeared completely. However, it is still one of the most appealing attractions all around the world due to its awe inspiring beauty and historical significance.
These tombs form the most extensive burial complex of any Chinese dynasty and are one of the finest preserved examples of 15th century Chinese art and architecture. Thirteen Ming Dynasty emperors were buried on these magnificent grounds. Similar to the great wall, the Ming Tombs were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in August 2003 because of its architectural prowess and historical significance.
Closely associated with the Ming Tombs, the Sacred Road was originally built to lead to the Changling mausoleum. It was considered to be the road leading to heaven as Chinese emperors were known as the Sons of Heaven. After an emperors death, the funeral procession would pass along the Sacred Road as a symbol of the emperor's journey to the afterlife.
Constructed between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of Ming Emperor YongLe, the magnificent and colorful Temple of Heaven (TianTan) was where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would make offerings to heaven and pray for good harvests. The three main constructions are surrounded by trees and gardens, very much alive with locals practicing tai chi, playing instruments, board games and badminton, singing and dancing and flying kites.
This archeological find includes a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The collection was discovered by accident in 1974 at Xian, in China, when local farmers digging a well came upon some life-sized statues. The statues were buried with the emperor in 210209 BC and their purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife, and to ensure that he had people to rule over.
The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, and horses. Current estimates show that, in the three pits containing the army, there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses - the majority of which are still buried in the pits. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found including officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.
It is also known as the Taoist Temple of the Eight Immortals, as its name indicates. It is mainly dedicated to the legendary Eight Immortals of Xian. It is the largest Taoist temple in Xian and is the most famous example of Taoist architecture in northwest China. With the dawning of a new age, the monastery represents the strong foundation in which a bygone era once flourished.
This is the most ancient temple where Taoism came into being. The great Chinese thinker Lao Tzi once gave classes to his disciples in this place. The temple is set in Lou Guan Tai Forest Park which is among the oldest national forest parks in China. It is the home to a wide variety of plant and animal life including pandas, monkeys, and takin.
As the symbol of the old-line Xian, Big Wild Goose Pagoda (Dayan Pagoda) is a well-preserved ancient building and a sacred place for Buddhists. Originally built in 652 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), one of the pagoda's many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of the Buddha that were brought to China from India by the Buddhist translator and traveler Xuanzang. His statue now stands in front of the temple area.
Xian's City Wall is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world. Started under the Tang dynasty (618 -907), it was extended to its current dimensions by Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom.
Despite its small size, the pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds, and cloisters all have unique characteristics. The centerpiece is the exquisite Jade Rock, a porous 3.3-metre, 5-ton boulder. Rumours about its origin include the story that it was meant for the imperial palace in Beijing, but was salvaged after a boat carrying it sank off Shanghai. However hidden behind its modern exterior are ancient buildings, Buddhist temples and street food stalls.
Founded in 1882, the Jade Buddha Temple (Yu Fo Si) in Shanghai is famous for its two magnificent white jade Burmese Buddha statues. Both depict Shakyamuni Buddha (the historical Buddha) but the more impressive of the two is the seated Buddha, 2 meters (6 feet 5 inches) tall, weighing 205 kg (452 lb) and decorated with semi-precious stones. The other statue is a serene and beautiful Reclining Buddha about 1 meter (3 feet 4 inches) long.
The name "Beijing" means "Northern Capital". It is the capital of the most populated country in the world. It was also the seat of the Ming and Qing dynasty emperors until the formation of a republic in 1911. Beijing is the political, educational and cultural centre of the country and as such it is rich in historical sites and important government and cultural institutions.
The city is well known for its flatness and regular construction. There are only three hills to be found in the city limits (in Jingshan Park to the north of the famous Forbidden City). Like the configuration of the Forbidden City, Beijing has concentric "ring roads", each rectangular in shape, which circle the metropolis.
With a population of more than 23 million (including over 9 million migrants), Shanghai is the largest and most developed city in China, and far more Western-oriented than Beijing. Once a playground for foreign adventurers and socialites, today it is home-grown tycoons that build soaring monuments to capitalism and the locals party all night.