A Brief History and Overview of Beijing
A societal center for China, Beijing serves a major role in preserving the traditions of Chinese culture. Start here with a brief history and overview of Beijing from the beginning up until today. Then when you visit the Great Wall of China, you will have some context for understanding the city of Beijing where you will visit the wall. This will help you better appreciate the history and culture of this monumental man-made landmark.
The Beginning of Beijing
Beijing City was established over 3,000 years ago and was called Jin City in the Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century BC – 771 BC). The history of Beijing begins in the Ming dynasty, which was from 1368 to 1644. At this time, the city was a welcoming place for traditional Chinese arts including calligraphy and painting. Emperors, courtiers, and other leaders in the city patronized artwork and imported precious objects from around China and other countries.
The cultural exchange continued to cultivate in Beijing up until the mid-19th century. At this time, all art was taken from Beijing and destroyed or sold abroad.
Rebirth of Beijing
Thankfully, the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s transformed Beijing back into a cultural powerhouse. Works of art were returned to owners in the city in the 1980s and the leadership began to create the most populous capital city on the planet.
Today, Beijing, also known as Peking, is considered a global power city. In addition, the city is now the political, educational, and cultural center of all of China.
Oldest City in the World
When visiting Beijing prepare to experience a unique blend of ancient China and modern-day Beijing. Everything from architecture to UNESCO World Heritage Sites is located within close proximity. As one of the oldest cities on earth, Beijing is home to seven World Heritage Sites alone:
- Great Wall of China
- Temple of Heaven
- Summer Palace
- Forbidden City
- Grand Canal
- Ming Tombs
Along with visiting the Great Wall of China, consider touring at least one other UNESCO site when visiting Beijing. This will increase your cultural understanding of this part of northern China that has been a bustling city for more than three millennia.
Beijing Cultural Experiences to See
During your time in Beijing, seek out traditional Chinese cultural experiences. For starters, the Peking opera or jingxi, features everything from acrobatics to elaborate costumes and makeup.
Places to see jingxi include Tianqiao, Capital, and Youth Art theaters. The Palace Museum, the Beijing Library, and the National Museum of China next to Tiananmen Square are great places to learn more about the cultural history and subsequent Cultural Revolution.