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Join the excitement as China's capital and second largest city, Beijing, prepares to host the 2008 summer games. Formerly known as Peking, Beijing has had many names, including Beiping and Yanjing, a reference to the ancient Zhou Dynasty.
Today Beijing is an intriguing blend of old and new, with booming development that respects the ancient traditions.
As the capital city for six dynasties of China, Beijing has a long history and a rather complete ancient architectural layout. Called "Jing" for short, Beijing is the capital city of the People's Republic of China and its political, cultural and international exchange center. The city boasts diverse colorful cultural landscapes of ancient and modern times, as well as a comprehensive and profound cultural heritage.
Beijing's well-known tourist attractions include the Tian'anmen Square, Temple of Heaven, Palace Museum, Summer Palace and the Badaling Section of the Great Wall, etc.
As the largest city square in the world at present, Tian'anmen Square is 440,000 m2 in area, 880 meters long from south to north, and 500 meters wide from east to west. Formerly known as the Forbidden City, the Palace Museum is the royal palace for 24 emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is the largest and most complete imperial residential palace compound and ancient architecture compound kept in China. The Temple of Heaven is the combination of two altars, namely Huanqiu Altar and Qiqiu Altar. As the place for emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to hold the ceremony of sacrifices to the god of heaven for good harvest, it is the largest ancient sacrificial architecture compound in both China and the world at present. In the Temple of Heaven, there are the Triple Echo Stones, Echo Wall and the Nine-dragon cypress which is about 800 or 900 years old. The Summer Palace was originally named as the Palace of Clear Ripples. It was a royal garden built by Emperor Qianlong. Burned down to ashes by the British and French allied forces in 1860, this garden was rebuilt by Empress Dowager Cixi who embezzled a huge sum of military fund and spent 10 years on its rebuilding. The new garden was renamed Summer Palace, covering an area of 290.8 hectares. With more than 3000 rooms, halls and pavilions, the Summer Palace ranks No.1 among all the Chinese landscape gardens. The Badaling Section of the Great Wall was the first section opened to tourism in China and the best-restored section, which measures 7.8 meters in height and 5.8 meters in width at the upper part. It was grant "World Cultural Heritage" status by the United Nations in 1987.
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