HISTORY TODAY: THE MING AND QING
Ancient Observatory An underrated sight, this old observatory boasts a clutch of breath-
takingly beautiful Ming-dynasty astrological instruments.
Chengde A wonderful small city in Hebei Province, featuring Bishu Shanzhuang, an old
imperial retreat, and a series of stunning temples.
DrumTower Looming over the Shicha Lakes, just north of the Forbidden City, this tower
can be climbed for great views. The neighbouring Bell Tower is also Ming, but has since
The Forbidden City One of China's biggest tourist draws, this old imperial stomping
ground goes back to the Mongol era, but its present structure is essentially Ming. Also of
note here are a series of splendid exhibition halls - one of them houses one of the world's
finest collections of Ming vases.
The Great Wall Another world-famous sight, the wall also pre-dates the Ming, but it's
work from this period that's most visible.
The Ming Tombs The resting place of several Ming-dynasty emperors.
The Temple of Heaven Justly regarded as the epitome of Ming design, and a real Beijing
Yonghe Gong This Tibetan Lama temple is one of the most visually arresting in the land.
The Great Wall
Though the Yuan dynasty had been brought to a close, the threat from the north remained.
Beijing found itself under regular attack from Mongol horsemen, who occasionally reached
the very gates of the city; they also hampered communications with the rest of the empire,
with the situation coming to a head in the early fifteenth century. The solution was simple but
incredibly ambitious: it was at this time that construction of the famed GreatWall got going
in earnest. Unlike previous walls, this was no mere barrier of rammed earth, but a sinuous
snake of brick and stone - several of them, in fact. Mighty as the wall may have been, it was
only as strong as its weakest link - the fact that guards will always be conducive to bribery
meant that it became a grandiose but ultimately futile attempt to stem the incursions of north-
ern Manchu tribes into China.
The Qing dynasty
Beijing's subsequent history is dominated by the rise and eventual collapse of the Manchu
who, as the Qingdynasty , ruled China from the city from 1644 to the beginning of the twen-
tieth century. Three outstanding Qing emperors brought an infusion of new blood and vigour
to government early on. Kangxi , who began his 61-year reign in 1654 at the age of 6, was a