The vast expanse of China is populated with incredible treasures and cultural sites that would take an entire lifetime to explore. In a previous post here on Cubicle Throwdown, we discussed historic sites throughout China which you may not have known existed and are worthy of visiting. This time we would like to take you on a cultural journey across China to visit five fascinating sites that offer deep insight into Chinese history and way of life.
The Great Wall
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The Great Wall of China was built more than 2,300 years ago by a succession of imperial dynasties, with the building process spanning over a period of 2,000 years for the purpose of protecting territorial borders from barbarians and the Mongol hordes. As the longest defensive structure in the world, the wall zigzags across the mountain range of Northern China and is considered as one of the greatest sights on Earth. The Great Wall isn’t a single long wall, rather a series of walls and fortifications built over time in sections. During the rule of the Ming dynasty, from the 14th to the 17th century, the Great Wall is believed to have extended over 4,000 miles! It has endured as a symbol of national identity and cultural heritage. Visitors are encouraged to tread lightly and help preserve this ancient monument.
Emperor Qin’s Tomb & The Terracotta Army
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Found purely by chance in 1974 by workers digging a well outside the city of Xi’an, the life-size clay soldiers number in the thousands. Each is meticulously crafted with unique facial expressions and positioned according to rank. Built over 2,000 years ago, the Terracotta Army was originally part of an elaborate mausoleum designed to accompany Emperor Qin, the first emperor of China, into the afterlife. The guided tour highlights the three pits where the warriors are on display as well as the exhibition of the Bronze Chariots. It is located 26 miles east of Xi’an city and covers an area of 175,000 square feet. Much of the burial ground is not yet excavated, including the tomb of Emperor Qin, with many archaeologists speculating that there are many more treasures hidden inside.
Mausoleums of the Yellow Emperor
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The Yellow Emperor, known by his people in various names like Huangdi or Xuanyuan, is said to be the progenitor of Chinese civilization. According to history, he worshipped the yellow earth, which was the source of food and clothing for his people. His mausoleum is hidden inside the dense evergreen cypress forest atop Mt. Qiao. Huangdi is so significant to Chinese culture that he has been featured in many documentaries and TV shows, such as Secrets of The First Emperor and The Last Dynasty series. He has also been popularized throughout history in folklore and legend, with modern online entertainment sites also introducing him to new audiences. The Huangdi The Yellow Emperor game showcased on Slingo pays homage to the iconic ruler, and features him in his traditional yellow garments that are know across China. His mausoleums in Shaanxi province stand as a testament of his cultural importance, and Women of China claim that this April there was a ceremony paying tribute to the Yellow Emperor. Zhengzhou’s annual ancestor worship is also held every year to honor Huangdi, demonstrating how modern tributes extend the longevity and enduring influence of this great hero.
The Forbidden City
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The Chinese emperor’s palace of the Ming and Qing dynasty, which ruled China from the 15th to the beginning of the 20th century, can be found in the center of the capital city Beijing. It was originally built between 1406 and 1420 and served 24 Chinese emperors, according to Wonders of the World site. While it is currently a museum, presenting the artistic and cultural treasures of Chinese history, the palace is considered as one of the great palaces of the world and a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Visitors enter through the Meridian Gate into a vast courtyard and cross the Golden Stream to enter the Forbidden City.
Image credit: chensiyuan CC-BY-SA-3.0
The well-preserved cultural town with stilted houses are considered a second-home to Chinese art and literature lovers. Every year scores of visitors flock to the ancient town of Fenghuang, for its rich Miao and Tujia ethnic culture. It is said that they come to pay homage to the iconic Chinese write Shen Congwen, whose novel “Frontier City” put the 1,300-year-old town on the map. The town has maintained its original layout and architecture, containing over 200 residential building, 20 streets and 10 winding alleys, all of which are as old as the Ming dynasty. The town is situated 267 miles west of Changsha, which is the provincial capital of Hunan. Visitors can get to Fenghuang by taking a bus, but be warned that the journey is over four hours long.