Today, our philatelic trip takes us to Beijing, capital city of the People's Republic of China and the host city of the 29th Olympiad.
As one of China's four ancient capitals, Beijing is China's center for art and culture. It is home to some of the most stunning architectural wonders in the world. A visit to Beijing must include stops at the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Tian An Men Square, Mao Zedong's Mausoleum, the Summer Palace and, of course, the Great Wall.
Our first stop is the Tian An Men Square (天安门广场). It is the large plaza near the center of Beijing, named after the Tian An Men (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City.
Tian An Men Square is 880 metres from north to south and 500 metres from east to west, with a total area of 440,000 square meters (44 Hectares). It is the largest open square in the world, considerably larger than the Red Square in Moscow.
Scenic Spots of Beijing Series - Tian An Men, 1956
Tian An Men Square has great cultural significance because it was on the rostrum of Tian An Men Gate that Mao ZeDong declared the People's Republic of China on October 1st 1949. That is why a large portrait of Mao hangs from the rostrum of Tian An Men Gate.
Next, we visit the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (毛主席纪念堂), commonly known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or the Mao Mausoleum. It is the final resting place of Mai Zedong, Chairman of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China from 1943 and the chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China from 1945 until his death.
Our next stop is the Summer Palace or Yihe yuan (颐和园). As its name implies, the Summer Palace was used as a summer residence by China's imperial rulers. It’s hardly surprising that, during the hot Beijing summers, the Imperial Family preferred the beautiful gardens and airy pavilions of the Summer Palace to the walled-in Forbidden City. Dowager Empress Cixi took up permanent residence here for a time, giving rise to some wonderful tales of extravagance and excess.
Scenic Spots of Beijing Series - Summer Palace, 1956
The Summer Palace is virtually a museum of traditional Chinese gardening that uses rocks, plants, pavilions, ponds, cobble paths and other garden styles to create a poetic effect between different scenes. When you stroll around the Summer Palace, you will constantly find the area changing. Next, we visit the Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven (天坛). It was constructed between 1406 and 1420 during the reign of Ming Emperor YongLe (1403-1424), who also oversaw the creation of the Forbidden City during the same period. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.
No visit to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall of China (长城). The Great Wall spans nine provinces and its total length is 6,700 km (3,948 miles). It extends from ShanHaiGuan (the 'Old Dragon Head'), a seaport along the coast of BoHai, in the east (near BeiDaiHe resort) to JiaYuGuan Pass in GanSu Province in the west. Like a giant dragon, the Great Wall of China winds its way across grasslands, deserts and mountains.
Although the Great Wall was originally built for protection, the wall stands as a tribute to the amazing ingenuity of the Chinese. Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, the Great Wall of China is a true marvel and a testament to the long history of the Chinese Civilisation.
Last but not least, we'll visit the Beijing National Stadium (北京国家体育场), or colloquially as the "Bird's Nest" (鸟巢). The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.
The Games of The XXIX Olympiad - Sport Venues M/S, National Stadium, 2007Just adjacent to the Bird's Nest National Stadium is the The Beijing National Aquatics Center ( 北京国家游泳中心), better known as the Water Cube (水立方). It was used for swimming competitions during the 29th Beijing Olympiad. The Water Cube is not exactly a cube. It is more of a rectangular in shape, i.e. 178 metres square by 31 metres in height. The National Aquatics Center has a capacity for 17,000 spectators.
That's all for today! Thanks for traveling with us :)