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Must-See Sights of China

In Beijing, once known as Peking in the West, is the Imperial Palace Museum, often called the Forbidden City (from the days in which it was off limits to most commoners). Overlooking the "Forbidden City" are the ancient man-made hills of Jingshan Park. Also in Beijing is the National Museum of China. Tiananmen Square is the largest of its kind in the world. Many years ago, it featured in the news but now it is peaceful. Your guide is sure to recommend the Summer Palace, Yiheyuan, which has classical Chinese style temples and pavilions, as well as beautiful gardens and Kunming Lake. Near Beijing are the Ming Tombs. Approached by the Sacred Way, they are guarded by stone effigies of soldiers, officials and animals.

Further out are the Eastern Qing Tombs, Dongqingling. They include the tomb of the Dowager Empress Cixi, who reigned during the Victorian and Edwardian periods.

A must-see is the Great Wall of China, Wanlichangcheng. Restored sections of the Great Wall can be seen at Mutianyu and Badaling.

in Changsha is the Lushan Temple, known for its ancient yew tree. (Yew trees were also regarded as sacred in other parts of the world and are common in English churchyards, especially if the churches were built over prehistoric ritual sites or druidic yew groves.) Also in Changsha is the Hunan Provincial Museum. Its fascinating displays include the well preserved mummy of an aristocratic lady.

In Hunan province, Southern Heng Mountain (called Hengshannan or Nanyue by the Chinese), has many monasteries and temples on its slopes. As a matter of fact, it is regarded as one of China's five sacred mountains. Also in Hunan is the Wulingyuan nature reserve (Zhangjiajie). It is famous for its varied and spectacular scenery and geology.

The house in which Mao Zedong, once spelled "Mao Tse Tung" in the West, was born and in which he lived during his youth, Mao Zedong Tongzhi Guju, is in Shaoshan. In the same city is the Museum of Comrade Mao Zedong (Mao Zedong Tongzhi Jinianguan).

In Chengde (not to be confused with Chengdu or the fabled Xanadu) are Bishushanzhuang, the imperial gardens, lakes and palaces. In its grounds are Wanshuyuan (the Garden of Ten Thousand Trees) and the Refreshing Mist-Veiled Waters Pavilion. The temples of Chengde include Xumifushoumiao (the Mount Sumeru Happiness and Longevity Temple). It was inspired by the Tibetan home of the sixth Panchen Lama but its roof is leafed with a ton of gold. Putuozongchengmiao (the Small Potala Temple), was copied from Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. Although it is a controversial subject, these show that China has had a long connection with, and respect for, Tibet. There is also Puning Temple. It has an enormous, gilded statue of Guanyin, a female Buddha famed for her compassion.

Sights and Sightseeing in Shanghai

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