China is one of the most intriguing countries on the planet, because of its long and distinguished history and because, for many hundreds of years, it was not well known or accessible to tourists. It definitely possesses some of the most important man-made sites on earth, so it is really difficult to narrow its wonders down to seven. Well, here goes.
1. Great Wall, most popular locations are northwest and northeast of Beijing. This incredible fortification extends for some 2,000 miles across the northern part of the country. It is certainly one of man’s crowning achievements and a testament to the tenacity and persistence of the Chinese people. Much of the wall is crumbling since it has been around for over 2000 years, but there are a number of restored sections that are extremely popular with tour groups.
2. Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’an. These guardians of the tomb of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a unified China, date to the 3rd Century BC. More than seven thousands life-size soldiers, chariots and horses adorn the tomb, with over 1,000 painstakingly pieced together at this time. This site is considered by many to be the greatest archaeological find (1974) of the Twentieth Century. The tomb is located just outside of the ancient capital of Xi’an.
3. Forbidden City, Beijing. This huge complex of buildings (980) and gardens in the center of Beijing was the royal residence since the 15th Century, until its opening to the public fairly recently. It sits at the northern end of Tiananmen Square, the largest square in the world, and is still surrounded by an 8-meter high wall and a moat.
4. Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Beijing. This exquisite, detailed, wooden structure in the Temple of Heaven complex, south of Tiananmen Square, is a symbol of China, with its blue roof and unusual design, based on the calendar. It was originally built in 1420 AD, but had to be rebuilt, using similar construction methods in 1889 after a devastating fire.
5. Leshan Giant Buddha, Leshan. This figure is the largest stone-carved Buddha in the world, 71 meters tall. It was completed in about 800 AD. It is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Ming Dynasty Tombs, north of Beijing. Final resting place for thirteen of the Ming Dynasty rulers are located here. Only three have been excavated to date, but further excavations are planned. Visitors normally see Chang Ling and Ding Ling’s tombs, including the latter’s underground chamber. Entry is along the Spirit Way, a tree and statue-lined road.
7. Gardens of Suzhou, about 60 miles west of Shanghai. The city of Suzhou, besides being the center of silk manufacturing, is noted for its Chinese gardens. Here, there are numerous examples of the classic Chinese garden which blends landscape features such as rocks and water, with trees and shrubs and flowers. The overall effect is one of tranquility and peace. Some of the notable gardens in Suzhou are the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Master of the Nets Garden, and the Lion’s Grove Garden
Other sites considered:
Summer Palace, Beijing
Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Lama Temple, Beijing
The Bund, Shanghai
Great Goose Pagoda, Xi’an
Shibaozhai Pagoda, along the Yangtze River
Mogao Caves, Dunhuang