The Forbidden City, the seat of Chinese power

This enormous city is in many ways a microcosm of China as a whole. Beijing is a metropolis that's appealingly diverse, boasting a wealth of sights and a fascinating past. You could easily spend a week here and still have plenty left to do and see. A great place to start is the unmissable Forbidden City. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this is one of the biggest palaces in the world, boasting some 9,000 rooms and outer walls almost a kilometre long. The Forbidden City is built around 3 main courts: an outer court, with three halls used for official and ceremonial business, another large court between the Gate of Supreme Harmony and the Meridian Gate, and an Inner Court used by the Imperial family.
The Forbidden City was built according to the principles of Feng Shui. As a result, many architectural elements were built or incorporated in nines or multiples of nine, square shapes were much used and the orientation of the palaces was carefully chosen.
The Forbidden City is so large that you need several days to really do it justice.
The Dongcheng District that contains the Forbidden City is also the location of Tiananmen Square, the third largest square in the world. It is famous as having been the stage for major political protests in China.

Beijing, balancing age-old traditions and ultra-modernism

Like many cities in Asia, Beijing is a multi-faceted place. The contrasts between the districts of Xicheng, Old Beijing and Dashanzi, nicknamed the Chinese SoHo and the Bird's Nest (Beijing National Stadium) are striking. A great way of discovering the many sides of Beijing is to go on a short guided tour, strolling around the streets in search of the Chinese capital's most impressive buildings. And don't forget to take a trip out to the Great Wall of China!
During your wanderings, you could stop to eat at a traditional restaurant in a 'Hutong', a kind of neighbourhood formed by lines of residences built around courtyards. These establishments offer a wide variety of inexpensive dishes. Other eateries cook up a richer cuisine that blends traditional influences and more modern trends. Feel free to ask for more information from the China National Tourist Office .

Beijing facts and figures

  • 7 hours ahead of Dublin time during summer
  • 8 hours ahead of Dublin time during winter
  • 19.6 million inhabitants
  • The city covers a surface area of 16,800 km²
  • In summer the temperature can reach 45°C
  • In the wintertime, on the other hand, temperatures can drop to an average of -2.7°C