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Top Rated Attractions in Beijing

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Summer Palace

Located 9 miles (15 kilometers) from central Beijing, this World Heritage Site is a breathtaking display of ancient art and architecture, lush royal gardens and amazing vistas. This vast complex of luxuriant greenery is studded with ancient architectural gems and pristine lakes; a triumphant showcase of traditional landscape design. The Summer Palace consists of numerous pavilions, towers, bridges and corridors, while the gardens are some of the best preserved in China. First built by the Qing Dynasty in 1750 as the 'Garden of Clear Ripples', the Palace suffered hefty damages in the war of 1860 and then again in 1900, only to be restored to its former resplendent glory a few years later. Its origins, though, can be traced back to 1153 when the capital of the Jin Dynasty was moved here. The Summer Palace is also known for its impressive 17-arch bridge and the Long Corridor decorated with brightly-colored paintings that depict Chinese mythological tales. Akin to a jewel box with its treasures laid bare, the Summer Palace is an enchanting medley of unforgettable sights.

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National Center for the Performing Arts

While the National Center for the Performing Arts may be this building's official title, almost everyone refers to it as "The Giant Egg". When looking at this shiny, oval building, it is no wonder why this is so. The 12,000 square meter building was designed by French architect Paul Andreu and was completed in 2007. The exterior features titanium-edged glass plates that reflect in the man-made lake that completely surrounds the building. The Giant Egg houses an opera hall, a music hall, and a theater hall. Visitors can explore this modern architectural wonder on guided tours, or take in a show during the evening.

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Palace Museum

The Palace Museum, which is now the largest museum in China, was once the home of 24 different emperors. It is located in the center of Beijing and the Forbidden city. With 70 halls and 9,000 rooms, it is hard to imagine being able to see all of the museum's treasures in one trip. This incredible establishment offers up a journey through China's history and is a must-see during your stay in Beijing. Check out the museum's website for an extensive virtual tour of their pieces, which range from calligraphy to furniture; doing so may help you to determine which parts of this huge museum you would most like to spend your time in during your visit.

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Zizhuyuan Park (Purple Bamboo Park)

Located near the National Library of China, the Purple Bamboo Park, sometimes called Black Bamboo Park, is a traditionally landscaped garden. As the name suggests, the garden has a large variety of bamboo, more than 50 species all together, with the most prominent being the black bamboo. It covers an area of 14 hectares (34.5 acres), including three lakes and two small islands on the lakes. Five arched bridges connect the lakes, isles and main garden area and there are scattered corridors and pavilions throughout.

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Olympic Sports Center Stadium

This space-age facility received a miraculous make-over for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as it's serving as a venue for the modern pentathlon. The stadium rennovation increased capacity to 40,000 spectators. The Olympic Sports Center Stadium is well equipped with broadcast speakers, color screen LEDs, functional rooms and everything required for a good stadium. After the Olympics, the stadium is slated to be used for track and field as well as football, but is also suitable for a number of other sports.

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China Science and Technology Museum

Altogether fun and educational, the Chinese Science and Technology Museum has some great hands-on exhibits dealing with electricity, gravity and all your favorite science experiments. Within the large Historical Exhibits hall you can learn about the lives of scientists, and see monthly exhibits, shows and displays. A giant circular screen shows films about evolution, modern science and space exploration.

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