As China’s global influence continues to rise, its capital, Beijing, has become increasingly importantand a popular tourist destination, greeting close to five million international visitors each year. An Armchair Traveller’s History of Beijing presents the capital from its earliest beginnings as a prehistoric campsite for Peking Man through its fluctuating fortunes under a dozen dynasties.
Home to capitals of several states over time, the site of modern Beijing has been ruled by Mongolian chiefs and the glorious Ming emperors, whose tombs can still be found on its outskirts. Through Beijing, we can experience Chinese history itself, including its more famous residentsincluding Khubilai Khan, Mulan, and Marco Polo. Special emphasis is placed on Beijing’s precarious heritage in the twenty-first century, as modern construction wipes out much of the old city to make way for homes for twenty million people.
This book also offers detailed information on sites of tourist interest, including the pros and cons of different sections of the Great Wall and the best ways to see the Forbidden City and the fast-disappearing relics of the city’s Manchu and Maoist eras. A chapter on food and drink examines not only local delicacies, but the many other Chinese dishes that form part of Beijing’s rich dining traditions. With its blend of rich history and expert tips, An Armchair Traveller’s History of Beijing is an essential introduction to one of the world’s most remarkable cities.
About the Author
Jonathan Clements is visiting professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. He is the author of many books, including Modern China: All That Matters and An Armchair Traveller’s History of the Silk Road.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Introduction Dynasties 1: The Land of Swallows: Prehistory to 221 BC The Discovery of Peking Man The Waste of the Bitter Sea The Place of Thistles Intrigues of the Warring States The Plot to Kill a King 2: North and South: 221 BC-AD 1215 Beijing as a Borderland The Ballad of Mulan The Life and Death of Nezha South, Middle and Holy Capital The Bridge of Magpies 3: Khanbalikh: 1215-1368 The Chessboard Streets The Tartar City The ‘Marco Polo Bridge’ The Drum and Bell Towers 4: The Forbidden City: 1368-1644 Perpetual Happiness The Living God of Wealth The Centre of the World The Eight Great Sights The Advent of the Manchus 5: ‘Peking’: 1644-1912 A Square Atop a Rectangle Lanes and Alleys Foreign Mud The Origin of ‘Peking’ The Empress Dowager 6: Northern Peace: 1912-1949 The 100-Day Empire The May 4th Movement The People’s Republic of China 7: Empty Spaces: 1949-1989 Permanent Revolution The Underground City The Goddess of Democracy 8: Beijing in the 21st Century The 50th Anniversary The Demolition Derby Modern Ghosts Interesting Times 9: Eating and Drinking Food Drink Alcohol 10: Travel Logistics Getting Around Security Issues Shopping Postage and Packing 11: Gazetteer The Centre: Tiananmen, the Forbidden City and environs Xicheng (West Central) Dongcheng (East Central) Chaoyang (East Suburbs) Fengtai (Southern Suburbs) Haidian (West Suburbs) Shijingshan (Western Hills) Further Afield Chronology of Major Events Further Reading and References