BeijingThe massive city of Beijing, former capital of imperial China over numerous dynasties, is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and has been since the Republic’s founding in 1949. Organised in concentric, oblong loops and beginning with the Forbidden City in the centre of Beijing, the city is rectangular and will continue to grow outward in this manner. There is no first ring road, but the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square serve as the de facto ‘first ring’; many major business centres and the most fashionable restaurants and clubs are within the second. Beijing’s diplomatic community is mostly within the third ring; universities such as the internationally respected Peking and Tsinghua Universities are in the fourth; and the fifth ring road has been nicknamed ‘Olympic Avenue’ as the Summer Games major venues are within this area.
A sixth ring road is under construction and there are plans for a seventh. With a highly respected curator or artist, visit Beijing’s celebrated art districts, Dashanzi and Caochangdi. Chat with students over a hot pot dinner in Haidian; take a helicopter to the Great Wall; watch Peking Opera performers rehearse; and take a private bicycle tour of Beijing’s hutongs, alleyways filled with the oldest housing developments and called siheyuan, or courtyard houses.
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