Photo suggestions for Beijing

Started Mar 16, 2012 | Discussions thread
HuntingSand Veteran Member • Posts: 3,196
A couple more (hidden) places in Beijing

Not really interested in the mains menu, but would be interested in old architecture, old-town, maybe a village nearby?

The Temple of Heaven compound has been mentioned in the context of "old architecture", but it's actually not a good match - the layout is by now is only sort of Ming dynasty, but the structures are much newer (as late as 1927 for the main sacrificial hall actually). The real Ming dynasty architecture, what is left of it, happens elsewhere; one example, probably the largest ensemble of Ming architecture still extant in the city, is the Altar of Agriculture, which complenents the usually overrun Altar of Heaven. One is on the east side of the central N-S axis, one on the west side. The A of Ag is a wonderful place to hang out, for reasons too numerous to list actually. For one, and that is little know, it houses Beijing's Museum of Architecture. They put on fabulous displays which take you through the entire history of the city, all housed under an authentic Ming roof. The same compound houses the former Imperial Kitchen, the Silk Altar, etc. It's a serene place, with lovely old trees, well-groomed lawns, and few visitors.

Another place worthwhile is the old Legation Street area, where all the former western embassies were settled. You see Belgian churches, Japanese banks, a huge (now totally dilapidated) Russian compound, and lots of bits and pieces of late 19th century western architecture. The Supreme Court of China occupies one large lot there now, and you will see unmarked, but well-guarded and highly walled compounds which house some of China's highest leaders. It's an area where I would advice caution pulling out the camera, though, lots of plainclothes in the street there. However, if you are into high French cuisine, the same street also (still) houses the old American embassy, with the unequaled French restaurant "Maison Boulud." Bring some money, it is expensive, but totally worth it. Boulud is only a stone's throw from TAM Square's S-E corner, but again, few people actually are familiar with the place and its location.

I don't recommend the Great Wall at Badaling, if you have time you should head over to the Huangyaguan section, things are quite a bit more real and less of a spectacle there.

By May the CCP will have decreed blue-sky days 24/7, so the winter smog and the April sandstorms may not be much of a factor anymore.

Tibetan image gallery:

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