BeiJing, An Ancient City

Beijing’s city walls have a long history. Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty built his capital at the present site, which he called Dadu. Rebuilding and extension operations were carried out on the city during the Ming Dynasty. The city acquired a ermanent shape in the middle of the 16th century.

The constructionof the city of Beijing was carried out under well-thought- out ove-rall planning: the motif that the imperial palaces were to be the dominating feature is clearly manifested in its general layout. The city spreads out on a 7.5-kilometer-long central axis running from south to north.The central axis begins at the Zheng-yang Gate and runs all the way to Tian An Men, which is the main entrance to the Forbidden City. Going fur-ther northward from Tian An Men. the central axis enters the Forbidden City and runs through the Duan Men Gate, the Wu Men Gate, the Tai He Gate, the Tai He Palace, the Bao He Palace and the Qian Qing Palace. Leaving the Forbidden city at the Shen Wu Gate,it runs through the lmperial gardens, the Di An Gate and comes to an end at the Bell Tower and the Drum Heaven and the southern tip of the axis has the Temple of Heaven and the Temple of the Land God and the Grain god.

Further north stand the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the moon.Situated at parallel locations in the south and the north are the Trmple of Earth and the Temple of Heaven. and Beijing’s streets fan out with this central line as the axis. Beijing used to comprise an inner city and an outer city, both of which were sur-rounded by high walls with gates on all foyr sides;the inner city gad nine gates and rhe outer had seven. The names of the gates have been handed down to this day though all of the walls have been demolished. Almost all of the gates have also been pulled down except the central southern gate of the inner city, the Zheng Yang Gate, which in older days only the emperors could use,the Bell Tower, the De Sheng Gate watch tower and the southeastern corner tower. All of these have now been opened to the public as museums.

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