Jingshan Park & the Forbidden City - Beijing, China (2011)
Updated: Feb 23
"Let me take a photo of you!" told me one guy while I was admiring the Forbidden City from the top of the hill in Jingshan Park... in this way I got my tourist photo.
A short video of that day :)
The whole area around the Forbidden City is amazing, with beautiful parks and many interesting places to explore. I've heard you can have a good view from Jingshan, the park north of the City so I headed that way.
Jingshan park has a mere entrance of 元2 (totally worth it), as soon as I got in, my ears caught the sound of some traditional organ.
Jingshan is an imperial park covering 23 hectares. Formerly a private imperial garden attached to the grounds of the Forbidden City, the grounds were opened to the public in 1928.
The view of the Forbidden City from the park. It was the Chinese imperial palace from the year 1420 to 1912 (Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty). It served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.
Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings with 8.886 bays of rooms. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.
The Forbidden City, the culmination of the two-thousand-year development of classical Chinese and East Asian architecture, has been influential in the subsequent development of Chinese architecture, as well as providing inspiration for many artistic works.
Girls dressed in traditional Chinese dresses have set up a business here, you pay a small fee and you can take photos with them to take home.
Many tourists here but many locals as well, dressed up nicely to have the photograph with the Forbidden City on the background.
Walking down I saw some people having a picnic on tables and reached an open area with four gates, full of local people and kids running around. A bit further a woman was playing some kind of traditional flute while others were practicing tai chi.
I walked towards the Bell Tower, passed by a few restaurants and while I was tempted I went into a convenient store. I found vegetarian instant noodles, only 元4 and another 元4,5 yuan for four pieces of small chocolate bread, a real bargain. I enjoyed my cheap lunch on the pavement outside while rain had started and I saw people running with their umbrellas and bicycles/motorcycles. A bit further , I found a nice hutong and went in to have a look, it was beautiful and felt like forgotten in time. A little girl with her pink umbrella was playing in one alley with the rain, the perfect picture - if I had a waterproof camera. Being still a bit hungry I got some vegetarian dumplings for only 元1,2 each!!
Before the rain started I walked into another hutong which looked abandoned and ran down. Hutongs are a type of narrow streets or alleys. In Beijing, hutongs are alleys formed by lines of siheyuan, traditional courtyard residences. Many neighborhoods were formed by joining one siheyuan to another to form a hutong, and then joining one hutong to another so eventually, the word hutong is also used to refer to the whole of these neighborhoods.
Since the mid-20th century, a large number of Beijing hutongs were demolished to make way for new roads and buildings. However, many hutongs have been designated as protected, in an attempt to preserve this aspect of Chinese cultural history. Nevertheless, my host and many more people told me that there were more plans for hutongs to be demolished giving way to lucrative businesses...
Previous days dinner with my host Tian (right) and another couchsurfer, a Polish girl staying for a night (left). Tian was a great host, very friendly, easy-going, lots of fun and tons of information to share about Chinese culture. She had three female hamsters and she was thinking to rent her place and move to Tibet to live there for a while.
Coming back home that night I found two mooncakes waiting for me, a gift from my host, so sweet!
GPS coordinates for places in this post, click on them to be redirected to the exact point in google maps. Click on the names to be redirected to their official websites (if applicable).
Jingshan Park: 39°55'30.4"N 116°23'48.6"E
Click below to read the connected previous and next post:
Click on the categories & tags below for more posts!