Trips and Tales: Part 119
We’ve been looking at Beijing – as one terminus of your Trans-Siberian journey – for a while and it’s now time to cover the remaining two districts of the central Beijing area. Beyond these, the city expands into increasingly rural suburbs and beyond.
This is a massive inner district, located primarily to the east of the city centre but overflowing north and south into the wider Beijing area.
The city’s Central Business District is located here along with the Dashanzi and Caochangdi Art Districts, and the Olympic Green sports facilities. The former two house a plethora of popular galleries displaying the gamut of contemporary Chinese art, whilst the Olympic Green presents an equally impressive range of stadia and gymnasia, all to national and (yes) Olympic standard – survivals, at least in part, from the 2008 Olympic games.
Particularly worthy of note is the National Stadium, aka the “Bird’s Nest”, constructed in its remarkably organic style that suggests a web of laced, interlocking strands. Beautiful, really.
As is the CCTV tower, though perhaps in a more monolithic style. Featuring a glazed and panelled outer aspect, the China Central Television Station building (not Closed Circuit TV!) resembles the letter ‘r’ mirrored at the peak of its upper arm, and with the reflection at 90 degrees to the original. A remarkable structure, both playful and futuristic in its design.
A healthy number of parks and museums are also present within Chaoyang, along with a handfull of theatres depicting a broad spectrum of shows from dance and acrobatics to puppetry.
West and low of the city centre lies Fengtai, somewhat less endowed in attractions than its neighbours but nonetheless possessing remarkable features of its own.
Not least of all: the World Park, containing miniatures of the world’s notable buildings alongside full-sized performers showing their skills at acrobatics and Vaudeville style shows.
Admired by its namesake, the Marco Polo bridge (or Lugou Bridge) is lined with columns of stone-carved lions gazing in at Western interlopers and indigenous peoples alike.
The eastern end of the bridge terminates at Wanping Fortress complete with Japanese shell-holes from the 1937 attack and yet is still surviving, impressively since the Ming Dynasty. And the sole larger scale Han Tomb.
An arguably darker spectacle awaits just south of World Park, for at the Western Han tomb site, an underground museum has been constructed to display the wares found within. Over 1000 artefacts dating from the Han Dynasty – that existed over 2000 years ago – have been unearthed and many of these were intact, within the preservation of the the original site. Three carriages and the remains of 11 horses were found inside the tomb’s major channel, all emphasising the site’s worth as the largest such find in complete preservation, within China as a whole.
On a slightly lighter note, activities based upon the Han culture are available for the more outgoing visitor. Such is the impression of this remarkable find.
Next time: Trips and Tales (Part 120) Arrival Beijing #9
[Photo by hibino]