The China of yesterday is one of the oldest civilizations known to man. In this land once ruled by Emperors, architectural remains tell the story of how people lived and worked. Located on the eastern part of Asia, the land covers 3.7 million square miles and has over 1.3 million people or one-fifth of the world’s population. In the cities, family apartments and office buildings compete for land space and high-rise structures often reach 50 floors.
Beijing, The Capital City
We begin our visit in Beijing, one of the six ancient capital cities of China. Tiananmen Square or “Gate of Heavenly Peace” is located in the heart of Beijing and is one of the world’s largest public squares.
Occupying an area of 720,000 square meters, stands the Forbidden City as commoners were forbidden entry for over 500 years. Also known as the Palace Museum, this municipality was the imperial palace of Ming and Qing dynasties. With construction beginning in 1406, the site boasts a history of 600 years. It is here that 24 emperors ruled China for nearly five centuries.
The Great Wall—One of the Wonders of Human Civilization
A short bus ride from Beijing is The Great Wall, one of the magnificent construction projects of ancient China. Astronauts report one of the defining moments in space is viewing the Great Wall that winds along like a 4,000 mile long dragon. During the seventh and eighth centuries B.C. and continuing for over 2000 years, over 20 dukes, princes and feudal dynasties contributed to its construction. Built to keep marauding barbarians from attacking the country, the wall also kept the people from leaving the area.
The Three Gorges Project
The largest water conservancy project ever undertaken by man is the Three Gorges Dam. Built in Sandouping, the site is located in the middle of the Xiling Gorge, and the longest and most dangerous of the three gorges on the Yangtze River. The Qutang Gorge is knows as the most magnificent gorge and the Wu Gorge is the most beautiful.
Yangtze River Cruise
Flying from Beijing to Yichang, our tour group boards the Victoria Anna—a cruise ship that will transport us along the Yangtze River. Due to silt washing from the hillside farms, the river appears a muddy brown in color. Small family farms dot the rugged mountain slopes where generations of people continue to grow small gardens of vegetables and fruit trees.
In 1974 a farmer was digging a well and discovered pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons. The local government was alerted and news of the treasure aroused national attention. Asleep under the ground for over 2200 years, stands the Terra-cotta Army of the Qin Dynasty. These warriors, weapons and other objects of the era are regarded as ‘the Eighth Wonder of the World.” The size, large number and exquisite artwork are considered miracles of art in terms of their excellent workmanship and showcase the talents of ancient China.
By visiting China, you will appreciate the culture and heritage of an ancient land as well as explore modern day cities.
Tomlin recently completed a tour of China. She contributes to numerous publications.