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Beijing is an amazing city of over 21 million people today. It is a blend of modern and ancient. It is home to a vibrant arts scene, it has been a political centre for eight centuries, is filled with stunning architecture that has influenced building in much of Asia, and has a very rich and dynamic history. This gallery showcases only a few of the cultural treasures from the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace.
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Photo 1. In the Forbidden City yellow is an important colour in the palace as it was the colour of the emperor. Each year an estimated 16 million tourists come to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some visitors dress for the occasion.
Photo 2. This is a photo of the Gate of Heavenly Peace of the Forbidden City from Tiananmen Square. The square is also bordered by the Monument to the People's Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China in the square on October 1, 1949. Tiananmen Square is within the top ten largest city squares in the world.
Photo 3. The Forbidden City exhibits the culmination of thousands of years of Chinese architecture and design. It was meticulously laid out and planned and many aspects of the palace have deep religious or symbolic meaning.
Photo 4. This temple lion is located within the Forbidden City in Beijing. Temple Lions are usually set in pairs in front of important buildings. There is usually a male and a female who may have her paw on a cub.
Photo 5. Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the Forbidden city was the ceremonial and political centre of China for over 500 years. In 1912, the Ming dynasty came to an end. The last emperor was deposed and the Forbidden City became a museum and a repository for art and cultural artifacts.
Photo 6. The Summer Palace is about 20 kilometres from downtown Beijing. Pictured here on Longevity Hill is the Tower of Buddhist Incense. The building is 41 metres in height and was a place of Buddhist worship. It is an octagonal shape made of wood and constructed on a stone foundation that is 21 metres high. It is considered a masterpiece of architecture.
Photo 7. A view of Kunming Lake. The beautiful Summer Palace is the largest and best surviving Imperial Garden in China. Kunming Lake was dug out by hand and the soil was used to create the 61 metre high Longevity Hill that looms above the lake.
Photo 8. At the top of Longevity Hill at the Summer Palace sits the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom. The walls are covered in beautiful tiles, many which contain images of Buddhas. Many the tiles has been damaged over the years. Some by European English-Franco army during the 2nd Opium war. Others by students during the Cultural Revolution. Despite the minor damage, the building is well worth the hike to the top of the hill.
Photo 9. The Summer Palace's Marble Boat was also known as the Boat of Purity and Ease. It was first erected in 1755. After Anglo French forces destroyed it in 1860, the Empress Dowager Cixi had it and much of the Imperial Garden restored using money that was earmarked for the Chinese navy. The boat is 36 metres long and in addition to a stone base is said to have a significant amount of wood painted to look like marble.
Photo 10. Beijing Summer Palace Suzhou Street 11. On the North of the Hill of Longevity lies Suzhou Street. An area of the Imperial Garden that was designed to imitate the Suzhou Water Town. Here, the Imperial Family and select nobles could pretend to be shopping in Suzhou while Eunuchs and concubines played the parts of shopkeepers, common folk and even pickpockets.
Photo 11. Set along the foot of Longevity Hill is a Long Corridor, a covered walkway constructed in the mid 18th century and famed for it's multiple images. This painted mural is one of many found in the 728 metre Long Corridor. The murals within the corridor contain classical scenes from Chinese mythology and folklore including the four classic novels of China and The 24 Exemplars.
Photo 12. One of the draws of the Forbidden City are the artifacts and artwork that are contained within the complex. This rich ceramic tile mosaic is one of the Nine Dragons of the Nine Dragon Wall. It was built in 1771. There is a similar wall in Beijing in Behia park.
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