Historic Architecture in Beijing

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Great Wall of China in Beijing, China

Great Wall of China
Historic Architecture of Beijing: Great Wall of China Great Wall of China. Photo © Jeff Hunter / Getty Images

Historic and Ancient Buildings in and near Beijing, China

Explore the historic architecture in and around Beijing, China. Here are photos of ancient temples, shrines, tombs, and other historic structures, with links and resources for learning more about China's historic architecture.

The Great Wall extends some 3,700 miles (6,000 kilometers) through China. Portions can be seen in Beijing.

Learn more: The Great Wall of China

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Forbidden City in Beijing, China

Forbidden City in Beijing, China
Historic Architecture of Beijing: Forbidden City Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Photo by Lucas Schifres/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images (cropped)

Built between 1406 and 1420 during the Ming dynasty, the Forbidden City is also called the Purple Forbidden City, or Gugong Museum in Chinese.

Occupying a rectangular area of more than 720,000 square meters, the Forbidden City was the imperial home of 24 emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. From their throne in the Forbidden City, they governed the country by holding court sessions with their ministers, issuing imperial edicts and initiating military expeditions.

The Forbidden City is one of the largest and best-preserved palace complexes in the world. There are over a million rare and valuable objects in the Gugong Museum.

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Temple of Heaven, Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, in Beijing, China

The Temple of Heaven was once the site of imperial offerings and rites to the heavenly gods.

Learn more: Visiting the Temple of Heaven

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Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China
Historic Architecture in Beijing: Tiananmen Square Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. Photo by Santi Visalli/Archive Photos Collection/Getty Images

Stretching across one end of the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square is the largest public gathering space in the world.

We often associate Tiananmen Square with the tragic killing of hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in 1989. However, the history of Tiananmen Square spans centuries.

Learn more: Introduction to Tiananmen Square

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Mao Tse-tung Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Mao Tse-tung Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
Historic Architecture ini Beijing: Mao Tse-tung Mausoleum Mao Tse-tung Mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. Photo © John W. Banagan / Getty Images

Mao Tse-tung is interred in a mausoleum at Tianamen Square in Beijing.

Mao Tse-tung, the founder of Communist China, died at age 83 on September 9, 1976. Visitors to the mausoleum can view Mao's embalmed body draped in the red flag of China.

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Tianamen Square Statues in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

People's Statue in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China
Historic Architecture in Beijing: Tianamen Square Statues People's Statue in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China. Photo © John W. Banagan / Getty Images

The Tianamen Square Statues stand outside the Ze Dong Mausoleum at the south end of Tiananmen Square.

These statues are also called Statue to the People, People's Statue, or Worker's Statue.

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The Summer Palace in Beijing, China

Summer Palace in Beijing, China
Historic Architecture in Beijing: The Summer Palace Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Photo © Sylvester Adams/Getty Images

The Summer Palace is a vast complex with temples, pavilions, bridges, and winding paths.

Rulers in the Forbidden City came to the Summer Palace to escape summer's heat. In 1888, Empress Dowager Cixi began an extensive renovation of the buildings.

Learn more: Sight-Seeing in the Summer Palace

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Seventeen Arch Bridge at the Summer Palace

Seventeen Arch Bridge on Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China
Historic Architecture in Beijing: Seventeen Arch Bridge Seventeen Arch Bridge on Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China. Photo © Alvis Upitis/Getty Images

The Seventeen Arch Bridge is part of the Summer Palace, where imperial rulers from the Forbidden City went to escape summer's heat.

Learn more:

Sight-Seeing at the Summer Palace

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Ming Tombs in Beijing, China

Interior Soul Tower at the Ming Tombs in Beijing, China
Historic Architecture in Beijing: Ming Tombs Interior Soul Tower at the Ming Tombs in Beijing, China. Photo © DKAR Images/Getty Images

The Ming Tombs are preserved mausoleums of 13 emperors from the Ming Dynasty that ruled between 1368 and 1644.

About 50 kilometers north of Beijing, a seven kilometer road called the "Spirit Way" leads to through a three-arched gate to the Ming Tombs, where 13 emperors are buried. The Ming Tombs are regarded as one of the best preserved examples of 15th century art and architecture in China.

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Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China

Photograph of the Great Hall of the People, column facade
Historic Architecture ini Beijing The Great Hall of the People, built in the People's Republic of China in 1959, has a classical facade in keeping with designs of other great government buildings throughout the world. Photo ©VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm/Getty Images.

The Great Hall of the People, one of the "Ten Great Constructions" of 1959, made Beijing a national capital.

About the Great Hall of the People:

Architect: Zhang Bo
Completed: 1959 (built in less than a year)
Size: Approximately 1,850,000 square feet
Location: Tiananmen Square, western edge
Uses: Ceremonies and government activities. The 2012 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony honoring architect Wang Shu was held here in 2012. U.S. President Richard Nixon's 1972 state visit to China took place here.
Architectureal Style: Traditional Chinese and Western classical (e.g., facade of marble columns, over 100 feet high)
Construction: Granite, in three sections (large center area flanked by two smaller areas on each side); flat roof
Interior: The Great Auditorium (seats over 10,000); State Banquet Hall (seats over 5,000); hundreds of conference rooms, meeting halls, and lounges for photo opportunities.

SOURCE: Ceremony, the Pritzker Architecture Prize, The Hyatt Foundation [accessed May 14, 2012].

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Craven, Jackie. "Historic Architecture in Beijing." ThoughtCo, Aug. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/historic-architecture-in-beijing-4065241. Craven, Jackie. (2016, August 9). Historic Architecture in Beijing. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/historic-architecture-in-beijing-4065241 Craven, Jackie. "Historic Architecture in Beijing." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/historic-architecture-in-beijing-4065241 (accessed November 18, 2017).