|Five free ways to see Beijing, from history to arts|
|Written by news desk - artdaily.com|
|Sunday, 22 July 2012 11:13|
BEIJING (AP).- The capital of China is quickly becoming one of the priciest — and fastest-changing — cities in the world,
driven by several decades of breakneck economic growth. But some of Beijing's most interesting areas are still free to visit, and provide a bridge between the city's rich cultural and political history and its modern incarnation as a dusty metropolis of gargantuan government buildings and glass-and-steel skyscrapers.
While the square may be most famous outside China as the site of 1989 pro-democracy student protests that were suppressed by the military, inside the country it is known as the place where on Oct. 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People's Republic of China.
Other highlights range from afternoon kite-flying to flag-raising ceremonies.
798 ART DISTRICT
Although heavy on kitsch, art can be found not only hanging on the walls of galleries but in the look of the buildings themselves. Designed by German architects in the Bauhaus style, the buildings marry art with functionality, with striking curved sawtooth roofs that allow an abundance of natural light to flood the spaces.
MURDER MYSTERY TOUR
The tour starts at the Beijing Railway Station in the heart of the city and meanders through alleys, pointing out many fascinating and easy to miss details. Link to the map and the audio tour: http://us.midnightinpeking.com/audio-walk/ .
Though most hutongs run east-west, a detailed map is essential to navigate the warren of courtyard homes without getting lost, and a good route would include the trendy Nanluoguxiang alleyway of shops, cafes and restaurants, the ancient Drum and Bell Tower, and the alleyways around the Qianhai and Houhai lakes. Or from Nanluoguxiang, stroll north, then east across the main road to Fangjia Hutong, an alleyway with many little bars, including the popular El Nido, whose friendly Chinese proprietor serves a wide array of imported beer at great prices. Heading north, explore the tree-lined Guozijian Street, where the imperial college and the Confucius Temple are located.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.