First time traveling to China? You’re in for a treat. It’s a nation that’s packed full of history and culture, with a wealth of traditions and a myriad of enchanting and exhilarating places and you just wouldn’t want to miss. Allow us to share with you 10 historical sites you really shouldn’t miss as you travel around this vast and impressive country.
The Great Wall of China
Arguably the most iconic landmark of them all in China, The Great Wall was built slowly and steadily with small walls being built back in the 7th century. These were strengthened and joined to make the Great Wall as we know it. The wall runs east-to-west and was created to protect the country from raids and invasions.
- Test yourself – How much do you know about the Great Wall of China?
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The Forbidden City
The Forbidden City (the old Emperor’s Palace) sits impressively at the heart of Beijing and you really can’t come to China without paying a visit. It was created during the Ming Dynasty (about 600 years ago) and is not only the most well-preserved palace in the world, but also one of the largest ancient regal structures in existence.
Located in the center of Beijing, at the entrance to Forbidden City, Tian’anmen Square is the place to go if you want to see the Great Hall of the People, the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, the Monument to the People’s Heroes and the National Museum of China.
The square itself was established on October 1st in 1949 by Mao Zedong and is the largest square in the world today, capable of hosting a million people.
Temple of Heaven
Although it’s not an active temple, the Temple of Heaven is still worth a visit due to the numerous activities on offer in the park surrounding the site, (the best time to visit is in the morning). It is home to a complex of former-religious buildings and is located in the Southeastern area of old Beijing. In the past the temple was frequented by emperors who would come to pray for a decent harvest.
The (New) Summer Palace
An imperial garden during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), the stunning Summer Palace is located in Beijing and covers an impressive 2.9 square kilometers. Here you will find beautiful gardens, lakes (include the prominent, man made, Kunming Lake), and palaces. Walk along the gallery pass to fully enjoy the views of the palace’s gardens.
The Terracotta Army
Built to protect Qin Shu Huang Di (the first emperor of China), following his death in 209 BCE, the Terracotta Army stands proudly guarding his tomb. Around 800 sculptures were discovered in 1986, by a local farmer digging a well, and further archeological efforts discovered the army including generals and warriors (each with distinctive facial features), chariots and horses.
The Old Mosque
At over 1300 years old, the Huaisheng (meaning “remember the sages”) Mosque is the oldest in China. It sits in the Xi’an, at the heart of the Muslim quarter and was built in memory of the Prophet Muhammed. The Mosque is unique in design for combining Muslim and Chinese elements in it’s architecture.
Big Wild Goose Pagoda
The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is located in Southern Xi’an – in the Shaanxi Province. This impressive Buddhist Pagoda was built back in 652 during the Tang Dynasty. The temple was built by the first Chinese monk who travelled to India to learn and translate Buddhist scriptures to Chinese. He brought them back to Xi’an (then, the capital) and started teaching, and Buddhism spread from there to all parts of China.
Probably the most iconic spot in Shanghai and regarded as the heart of the city,
the Bund– situated on the Western bank of the Huangpu River – is a must visit. It is well known for its array of colonial, European style buildings but also for the amazing view of the other bank – Pudong – with the impressive skyline of Shanghai. The 2nd tallest building in the world today, the Shanghai tower, is one of these skyscrapers.
Old Jewish Ghetto
As one of the only havens for Jewish refugees during WW2, the Shanghai Ghetto was home for almost 18,000 European Jews who managed to escape the war, just in time, to find refuge in the far east. Shanghai, as an open port, became their home and is still commemorated for that today by a small museum and few blocks surrounding it, preserving the old Ghetto area.
Ready to Experience the Delights of China for Yourself?
With so much to see and do in China it’s hard to know where to start. Get the most from your visit by doing your research and planning your trip.
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