Jul 5, 2011

China - Beijing

Tiananmen Square and the Gate of Heavenly Peace (south entrance to the Forbidden City)

Beijing! The capital of China is the city of all superlatives. We were really amazed by its colossal size: a diameter of 130 kilometres! The Beijing of today is organized in six concentric cercles. Twenty-five years ago there were only two of them...

It seems that China is a perfect example of "when you want you can". For example in Beijing no less than two hills are man-made, created from the soil extracted to dig the moat of the Forbidden City and the 220 hectares lake in the Summer Palace!

Tower of Buddhist Incense and the Kunming Lake, Summer Palace

View from the Tower of Buddhist Incense, Summer Palace

All the monuments we visited were huge. Ok, it seems normal to spend four hours in the Forbidden City but every single temple became a tremendous complex once we entered in! ;) So.. our days were really full and we walked for long hours in the smoggy Beijing.

We were surprised to realize that the Forbidden City did not actually match with the images we had in our heads from the movies.

Forbidden City, view from the Coal Hill

Palace of Heavenly Purity

Hall of Supreme Harmony

Beijing was reorganized during Mao's time in particular its heart, the monumental Tiananmen square which is supposed to be the biggest square in the world. The communist architecture is easily recognizable: forbidding monuments which hosts on the east side the under renovation National Museum and on the west side the Great Hall of the People (the parliament house).

But the square kept its ancient symbols: the main entrance to the Forbidden City - Gate of Heavenly Peace - in the north and Qianmen Gate in the south.

Playing in the Beijing Opera House pool, in front of the Great Hall of the People

The middle of the square is occupied by Mao Zedong's Mausoleum. We tried to visit it three times. The first time it was raining like hell and when we arrived at the beginning of the line after forty minutes of zigzag between chinese umbrellas we were told that we needed to show our passports to enter the mausoleum. The second time coincided (we learned it later..) with the anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese communist party and its official celebrations. The square was a no man's land! The third time, the security guards closed the queue just in front of us. We were too late at 9am! In fact, the mausoleum is only opened between 8am and 12am but the line to visit it starts at 7am. Thousands of Chinese gather on the square every day and try to find the beginning of this long line. But the way is treacherous, the square is blocked with security fence and only a few check points allow to enter the square.

Tiananmen Square
On the right, Monument to the People's Heroes and on the back, National Museum

Next to Tiananmen square, an architectural masterpiece was inaugurated in 2007, symbolizing the new face of the capital. Beijing Opera House (officially called National Centre for Performing Arts) is conceived to be a "pearl sitting on the water" according to its French architect Paul Andreu. The building looks more like a jellyfish but its interior is just spectacular.

Beijing Opera House

Even in the middle of the concrete city, it is not that difficult to find some beautiful green spaces, rivers, lakes and some other peaceful places.

Burning incense offering at the Lama Temple

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Temple of Heaven

 Newlyweds taking pictures in the temple of Heaven

Seventy kilometres away from Beijing, we climbed on the Great Wall at Badaling section. This work also shows Chinese impressive willpower: 6.700 sinuous kilometres from west to east running on the crests of mountains. The majority of the existing wall was built during two centuries.

And a trip in China would not be complete without a glimpse at a traditional tea ceremony:


  1. Coucou les jeunes

    A mon prochain mariage, je veux la meme robe !
    Les photos sont géniales, comme d'habitude...
    Gros bisous

  2. Coucou la belle famille,
    On est pas franchement d'accord avec ce second mariage.. ;)