UNESCO, or the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, was established back in 1921. The organization was developed as part of the UN with the goal of educating the public about the sciences, communication, and culture throughout the world. As such, you’ll find many monuments, buildings, mountains, and forests throughout the world marked as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because the organization has deemed them to be of significant importance. As you tour China, and specifically Beijing, you’ll find a number of such sites and you’ll want to make sure you include at least a few on your itinerary.
Summer Palace and Imperial Garden
This stunning palace and the surrounding gardens were originally built in 1750, but the wars in the latter half of the 1800’s destroyed the grounds completely. The site was restored to it’s original glory in 1886 and is considered a stunning example of Chinese architecture, landscaping, and garden design. UNESCO named the area a World Heritage Site in 1998 and visitors have been enthralled by the palace’s pavilions, palaces, temples, bridges, and overall aesthetic landscape.
Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties
Established as a World Heritage Site in 2000, the Imperial Tombs were originally built in the 17th century to honor the emperors that originally founded the Qing Dynasty. The decorations and carvings all serve a purpose, lending to the meaningful cultural significance in design and placement drawn from the concepts of feng shui and geomancy. The three separate tombs speak volumes about the architectural developments and cultural traditions of the time period.
The Great Wall
The construction of the great wall is believed to have begun around 220 BC and continued well into the Ming Dynasty, which lasted from 1368 through 1644 AD. Labeled a World Heritage Site in 1987, the wall has long served as a reminder of the importance of protection and defense against northern invasions and speaks volumes about war, strategy, and the way the military worked.
The Peking Man
The Peking Man site, located slightly south-west of the city of Beinjing, was established as a World Heritage Site in 1987. It is a stunning architectural dig site where work is still in progress. Scientists studying the site have found remains dating as far back as 18,000 BC, making it a stunning example of the way prehistorical societies lived while showcasing the true nature of evolution.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a history buff or a true tourist. You should have a least one or two of these fantastic, gorgeous, and historically significant sites on your list of things to do. If you have time to leave the city of Beijing, explore some of the sites in the other provinces as well. You’ll find the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor in Xi’an, Mount Taishan in the Shandong province, the Temple and Cemetery of Confucius in Qufu, and Lushan National Park in the Jiangxi province – amongst many others. You won’t regret taking the time to see and learn about these fascinating sights.
About the Author: Bryon Mandy and his wife enjoy traveling and are planning a second China tour for the 2nd quarter of 2013. They particularly enjoy historic sites and will be visiting as many World Heritage Sites as possible.