Saturday, July 16, 2011

First Full Day in Beijing (7/16/2011)

Saturday, July 16, 2011
After such a gray day yesterday and a thunderstorm at night, it was hazy but sunny and hot on this morning. Of course, on the day we planned to stand in line outside for 1-1/2 hours! Yes, we joined thousands of Chinese to visit Chairman Mao in his Memorial Hall:
The Mausoleum was completed in 1977 after Mao died on September 9, 1976. Is it really him, or a wax figure? We couldn't say for sure.
We don't have photos of being in line, as they are strict about what you can bring with you. You have to check your bags, cameras, etc., and just bring official ID.
Afterwards, we roamed the rest of Tian'anmen Square. The Great Hall of the People:
Built in 1958-59, this would be the capital building of China. It is supposedly larger than the Forbidden City and can seat 10,000 parliament representatives.
View towards Tian'an Men/Gate:
This year is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China.
Chairman Mao proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China from the balcony of this gate on October 1, 1949, and his portrait still hangs there.
The Monument to the People's Heroes:
Erected in 1958 with relief carvings from China's revolutionary history.
China National Museum:
Built in 1959.
Brynne and Tamiko:
Tian'an Men/Gate of Heavenly Peace was built in 1420 and is the entrance to the Imperial City.
Tian'an Men Gardens:
Tian'an Men Fountain:
Rockin' fountain show:
Ornamental pillar:
Duanman Men/Upright Gate:
Here the imperial family would greet visitors:
First view of the Forbidden City:
Across a sports field?!
Approaching the Forbidden City down an avenue of locust trees:
A tower of Wu Men/Meridian Gate, the entrance to the Forbidden City, the exclusive domain of the imperial family.
No one could enter or leave without the emperor's permission. This was considered the Celestial Emperor's home on earth.
An entrance door:
Doors for imperial use were decorated with 9x9 (81) brass studs. Nine is a lucky number and supposedly the Forbidden City has 9,999 rooms.
The Forbidden City is officially known as Gugong/Palace Museum.
Brynne and Kent in the Outer Court:
A side gate to the Wuying/Martial Valor or Military Prowess complex:
Brynne and Tamiko, already sweating:
Golden River:
Pagoda tree blossom:
Tamiko and Brynne:
Wuying Men/Gate of Martial Valor:
Bridges with dragon water spouts:
Back to the Outer Court. The inside of Wu Men/Meridian Gate:
Needs some stucco work!
General view for the vastness of just the forecourt:
Looking towards the Taihe Men/Gate of Supreme Harmony.
The Inner Golden River Bridges:
Yes, there were Outer Golden River Bridges that we crossed outside of Tian'an Men. The five marble bridges symbolize the five cardinal virtues of Confucianism (benevolence, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and fidelity) and they break up the view of the river so that it resembles the jade squares of the belt worn by officials.
Pairs of lions guard the entrances. The male holds a ball under his paw:
(The female has a lion cub.)
Since we were not allowed through the Gate of Supreme Harmony, we had to walk around either side to end up in the main Outer Court:
Even more immense!
In the center, a marble carriageway leads to Taihe Dian/Hall of Supreme Harmony:
Kent and Brynne:
The marble carriageway was carved on the ascent to the hall, with dragons chasing pearls among the clouds. This central ramp was reserved for the emperor:
On the "patio" of the Hall of Supreme Harmony, there was a sundial:
and Bixi, a dragon tortoise (first of nine sons of the dragon):
Guardian animals on the roof corners:
Always found in uneven numbers, the most is the lucky number nine, only to be had by the emperor as the highest rank. You don't count the larger animals at the beginning and end of the line, nor the human "shepherd" at the end of the guardian line. They are supposed to protect the building from fire, but these needed the added protection of lightning rods.
Rubbing the lucky handles of a cauldron:
The rear of the Hall of Supreme Harmony:
Everyone was looking for a seat in the shade.
Tiles with the rare color of green.
The color yellow for roof tiles is only for the emperor.
Now in the final court of the Outer Court, looking at Qianqin Men/Gate of Heavenly Purity:
This gate is said to have never been burned down, and so is the oldest. It leads to the Inner Court, the living quarters of the imperial family.
Qianqing Gong/Hall of Heavenly Purity:
Residence of the emperor.
A peek at the corner Arrow Tower:
The Imperial Garden with the Imperial View Pavilion up on a rockery:
A yellow-tile screen:
Pavilion of 1,000 Autumns, a square building topped with a circular roof:
Stone mosaic:
The courtyard of the Palace of Eternal Spring:
Rafter painting:
Trompe l'oeil painting making it appear the corridor extends further:
Forbidden City alley:
Outside the Forbidden City, with the moat and corner Arrow Tower:
After lunch, we took three Metro trains to reach the Olympic Green, site of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Is this guy getting his photo taken as if holding the tower?
The Beijing National Stadium, aka the Bird's Nest:
The bubbly structure below is the National Aquatic Sports Center, aka the Water Cube:

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