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Beijing, Past, Present & Future

Tourists gather in the Forbidden City, which is now being extensively restored.

Photo: Dean Kaufman

After the revolution of 1949, they say, Mao gazed down from the Gate of Heavenly Peace and announced that he wanted “the sky filled with smokestacks.” Factories soon supplanted temples, gardens, and teahouses. Today, many Beijingers fear that their heritage is again on the chopping block. The idea of preservation is new here, and historic neighborhoods are under threat—but the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven are being stunningly restored. Even as fresh marvels spring up, there’s hope that the great ancient ones will stand reborn. Read the article

Destinations: Beijing · Chongwen

Inspired by: Reinventing Beijing — by Michael Z. Wise, Published Oct. 2007

Hotels (4)

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    Hotel Kapok

    The exterior of this Dongcheng neighborhood boutique has a lattice pattern. When lit up at night, it resembles a giant lantern, one of the traditio

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    Grand Hyatt, Beijing

    This enormous, curved glass tower just a stone’s throw from the shops of Wangfujing has a lot going for it: super-solicitous service; excellent in-

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    St. Regis, Beijing

    Beijing’s toniest hotel became even tonier in 2008, thanks to a $27 million refurbishment. Although the property had already cocooned guests in sum

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    The Peninsula Beijing

    The opulence that greeted guests when the Pen opened more than two decades ago—the sweeping Busby Berkeley–style marble staircase and luxury boutiq

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Restaurants (1)

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    Kejia Cai

    “Father of the Nation” Sun Yat-Sen was a member of the “Hakka” people, migratory Han Chinese who speak their own language and maintain their own, u

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Activities (9)

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    Gate of Heavenly Peace

    Chairman Mao himself is said to have surveyed Beijing from atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace and announced he wanted "the sky to be filled with smoke

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    China Central Television Headquarters

    The television headquarters will be the second-largest building in the world, after the Pentagon, and the architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren

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    Bell Tower

    This tower and its counterpart, the Drum Tower, kept Beijing people up to date on the official time through three dynasties. Drums beat out at nigh

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    Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall

    The highlight of a visit to the new Beijing Planning Exhibition Hall is the extraordinarily detailed scale model of the city that projects what Chi

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    National Grand Theater

    Paul Andreu's delightfully zany China National Grand Theater, a.k.a. the Alien Egg, opened its doors in 2006.

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    Forbidden City

    It doesn’t have a street address—which is only fitting for a place that was once considered the center of the universe. The Forbidden City’s vast,

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    Olympic Park, Beijing

    Set in the city’s northeastern Chaoyang district, the newly built Olympic Park is home to the fabulous “Bird’s Nest” national stadium (an inventive

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    Temple of Heaven

    The Taoist temple where Ming and Qing dynasty emperors once prayed for good harvests has some of the most exquisitely graceful architecture in the

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    The Summer Palace

    It must have been quite a schlep for emperors of old—who traveled in slow-moving palanquins along with hundreds of courtiers to get to this beautif

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