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About Beijing China
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  › Forbidden Palace - Wumen Gate
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About Shanghai China
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About Xian City (Xian City Guide)
Amazing Xian Terracotta Museum
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TerraCotta Army Discovery
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Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang
Tour of Terra Cotta Museum
Xian City Wall

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Beijing China History

History of Beijing City in China - Beijing Earliest Beginnings

Beijing is an ancient city with a rich history and culture dating back to over 3,000 years. About 500,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Chinese (known as the Peking man), resided just 50 km southwest of Beijing.

The earliest historical records of Beijing city traces back to Ji which was the capital of the Yan state in the north (one of the 7 warring independent states at that time period). The 7 independent states were: Qin, Zhao, Qi, Han, Wei, Chu, and Yan. Back then, the 7 states were contending for the control of the central plains. Ji was exactly the predecessor city of Beijing.

Ancient China Qin Dynasty & Han Dynasty

Where Ji (Beijing today) was situated, was a strategically advantageous location for development. It's situated on a small plain with three sides closed off with surrounding mountains, and expansive rolling plains to the south. Leading to the south were a number of gorges such as Shangguan Pass, Juyongguan, and Nankou Pass (south entry pass). To the northwest, there is Badaling (Eight Prominent Peaks, which happens to be a popular tourist destination for Great Wall Tours today), leading to the Mongolian plateau. With this, Ji was a strategic communications hub between the north and the south.

In 221 BC, the famous emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210) of Qin state annexed the other 6 states and established the first feudal dynasty in China. At this time, there were often invasions from the Northwest, which made Ji (Beijing) a strategic point to fend of invaders from the north. (The army of Terra-cotta warriors was unearthed from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang.

Over a period of 1,000 years between the Qin Dynasty to the end of the Han Dynasty, Ji eventually developed into a large city, and became a trade center between the north and the south

History of Beijing China - Ancient China Dynasty (Sui, Tang Dynasty)

Here's a brief timeline of Ji (Beijing), for periods around 600AD:

  • 611AD, Emperor Yangdi (569 - 618) of Sui Dynasty sailed from Jiangdu (nowadays called Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province) to Ji in dragon boats with hundreds of officials after a 50 day voyage
  • 645AD, Li Shimin (599 - 649) of Tang Dynasty stages a rally south of Ji (Beijing)
  • During end of Tang Dynasty and the end of the 5 dynasties (around 960Ad), Qidan (a national minority) occupied the city of Ji, and changed its name to Nanjing (Southern Capital)
  • Ji became the secondary capital of the Liao Court, reigning from 916 to 1127AD.
  • In 12th century, the Nuzhen people replaced the Liao regime, and moved their capital to Youzhou (city of Ji), and renamed it Zhongdu (Central Capital) - they began large scale construction at the city of Nanjing. When constructions completed, the newly built Zhongdu had 3 layers of city walls with a perimeter of 32.5 KM.
  • Zhongdu developed into a flourishing city and became a central hub for trading and commerce

History of Beijing City - Invasion of Mongolians to Current Day Beijing (Ming Dynasty, Qing Dynasty)

The mongolian calvary, fearsome and powerful at that time period, invaded and destroyed the imperial city. Here's a timeline of that period:

  • 1260AD, Kublai Khan (1215 - 1294, grandson of Genghis Khan came to Yanjing, and decided to make Yangjing the capital city and built the city of Dadu (Great Capital), and thus came the new reigning Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368) - this construction of Dadu of Yuan Dynasty set the layout of the city of Beijing today
  • 100 years after construction of Dadu, Zhu Yuanzhang (1328 - 1398, founder of Ming Dynasty) became the new emperor in Nanjing (south of Yangtze River)
  • During this time, Xu Da (famous general of early Ming Dynasty) captured Dadu and changed its name to Beiping (northern peace).
  • Zhu Di (1360-1424, 4th son of Zhu Yuanzhang, became emperor in 1403.
  • 1421AD Zhu Di changed the name of the city to Beijing, and after completion of the Forbidden City, moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing. The construction took 14 years to rebuild the model of Nanjing in Beijing, which formed the layout of Beijing city today
  • 1564AD, an outer city was built to the south, forming the inner and outer city of Beijing. Inner city wall of Beijing ran 6,650 meters east to west, 5,350 meters north to south
  • Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) inherited the palaces of the Ming Dynasty, and spent a considerable fortune building two palaces in the western suburbs.
  • YuanMingYuan (Old Summer Palace) was destroyed by Anglo-French allied forces. Later the new Summer Palace was built (YiHeYuan).
  • 1949, Beijing officially became the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The Above was a rather brief timeline of Beijing city's history dating all the way back to Qin Dynasty up to present day when Beijing became PRC's capital - a rich and tumultuous history to say the least. What's more interesting and inspiring is that much of this splendid history has been preserved and open for public viewing and touring. Historical monuments such as the Forbidden City and the Grandeur of the Great Wall of China are wondrous sights to behold and to be part of. To visit and experience this, is something that you will remember for a life time.

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