The Big Bell Temple was first built in 1733, and called the Temple of Righteous Awakening. In 1743 a giant bell was transferred from the Temple of Longevity to this temple and from then on, it has been called the Big Bell Temple.
The temple compound contains three rows of halls, and in the courtyard in front of the first big hall is an ancient cypress which has an elm branch grafted onto its trunk - just for something different.
The bell hangs in the Bell Tower at the rear of the compound. The tower is 16.7 meters high, the bell is 6.87 meters high, 3.3 meters in diameter, 0.22 meter thick and weighs 46.5 tons. Many say it is the largest bell in China.
If you climb the spiral stairway to the top of the tower, (at an extra cost) you have nice views of the surrounding areas. You can also rub the bell for luck (at a cost).
Another small and interesting place away from huge crowds.
The souvenir and art shops in the compound were great value for money.
Traditional looking building, but with an amazing collection. I've only seen the special exhibitions, but they were so good, it took me by surprise. The quality of the (modern) art was high, figurative as well as abstract. The artists showed skill and influences from both China and the rest of the world. I met one artist here, Yong Zhou, and we talked about his beautiful works.
If you love art, try to squeeze this gallery in your schedule!
The Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution is a fascinating museum to visit if you are interesting in military paraphernalia and relics. Also it is a great place to get a political and historical education of China, at least as how the current rulers see it. The museum is house in a rather ugly old 1950's grey block of a building. Inside on the main floor is a warehouse full of tanks, cannons, jets and machine guns. The collection is quite impressive if rather dusty. For us Westerners, you can see weapons captured by the Chinese during the Korean War where we were considered the bad guys.
From the Ground floor you then can proceed upwards to the rest of the four floors of the building. Starting from the second floor you have more early historical exhibits depicting Chinese military conflicts during the Imperial years with many life-size dioramas. The remaining floors are dedicated to the military conflicts of the 20th century. This includes the two phases of the Chinese Civil Wars, the Second Sino-Japanese War (World War II to the rest of us) and the Korean War. Some might find the propaganda here a little offensive but remember that the Chinese see themselves as being bullied by foreigners for most of the last two centuries. Read some history of China are might learn that to a large degree they are right.
The Military Museum is open from 8:30 to 4pm daily. It costs 10 yuan for admission.
National museum/Museum of the Revolution.
We were really excited about going to the National Museum as we both have a great interest in Chinese history. However, it was not to be. The National Museum is undergoing reorganisation and there were very few exhibits of interest.
The Gifts from other countries was quite interesting but otherwise I would save your money and leave the museum for after 2008.
There is a notice indicating the reorganisation but we did not think it would be so devoid of displays of historic interest.
Cost: 30 Yuan.
Here is a pretty meticulous list of Beijing museums and galleries, by sections:
- arts & crafts;
- science & technology;
- famous people;
Whatever you are looking for, I`m sure you can find it there. I know I did. :-)
At the eastern end of the Ming wall there is an impressing watchtower. It costs a small penny to enter, and you can see a large map of Beijing in imperial times. There are also a few galleries (www.redgategallery.com). In the tower itself are 144 archers’ windows. The carvings in the wall aren’t new. Allied forces carved them during the boxer rebellion (1900).
Chinese train spotters must love this site. From here it is possible to have complete control of Beijing railway station.
It's in the middle of nowhere, it's hard to find, it's 60km from Beijing, and there's precious little to eat or drink once you get there, but if you like old planes, rockets and helicopters then the Chinese Aviation Museum is the place to go.
This mainly outdoor museum has simply hundreds of aircraft on display, from a working replica of the Wright Brothers first aeroplane right through to the 1970s Tridents, Il-62s and assorted fighter jets.
Nothing modern, and not much feel for Chinese aviation - everything has been copied from everyone else.
Chairman Mao's personal Il-18 can be boarded for 5 RMB more, as can the Orbis DC-8 flying eye hospital (no idea if any of the money collected here actually goes to Orbis though). Mao's plane has a bed, meeting room but otherwise looks pretty normal for a 1950s Russian-made aircraft.
A huge Be-2 amphibious plane is poised over a small lake, but as you head past one hanger you come upon row after row after row of decaying aircraft, each labelled in English and Chinese. A further Trident and the fuselage of yet another lie at one end of the back row.
One of the most interesting features is the huge underground hangar where there is - again - a seemingly endless line of vintage fighters and smaller aircraft, including the plane from which Zhou Enlai's ashes were scattered.
At the far end of the hangar is a rather well preserved Viscount...ah....now I remember these from the 1980s flying from Aberdeen to Lerwick! Next to it was a rather rough looking Tupolev 124, and I also remember these from a few flights in Romania back in the early 1980s.
Now if you are looking for the runway on which all these planes arrived, you won't find it! There isn't one here.
Every plane came in the way you did, through the front gate. If you feel that the last kilometre of approach road is a bit wide....it is. It is wide enough for an aircraft to be taxied from the end of the runway at the nearby Changping Airbase 4.5km to the south-west right up to the hanger under the mountain!
Perpetually packed, but especially during any of the Golden Weeks, this vast museum is both fascinating and also horrifying. It's not that it particularly glorifies war and violence (although there are elements of this, largely because of the Communist agenda of struggle) but more because of the huge numbers of lives lost to military action over the hundred or even thousands of years.
The central display halls on each floor and the outside display areas are curiously detached from the rest of the museum's wings which explain in panels and objects (everything labelled and described meticulously in both Chinese and English), forcing you to go up three big floors in the display areas before coming back down to ground level to go up the three floors of the exhibition parts.
The fascinating part of this museum is that it is a proxy for the now closed People's History Museum in Tian'anmen Square, showing the 20th Century history of China. Of course, this history is very slanted towards the propaganda and 'heroic deeds of the workers' angle, which is a bit tedious. OK. A LOT tedious after successive vast galleries.
However, it is in the personal objects and letters (many translated into English in snippets) that make this an excellent museum.
The museum is huge and the exhibitions on the Long March and the Anti-Japanese War are particularly valuable.
For those interested in older periods, there are huge galleries for these eras as well.
Think of this as being one of the best overall history museums in China, as opposed to the 'art museums' that most Chinese museums are.
China National Museum of Fine Arts is one of the 10 principal architectures built in the first ten years after the founding of the People's Republic of China. It was completedin 1962 under the solicitude of the late Premier ZhouEnlai and its signboard was inscribed by the late Chairman Mao Zedong in 1963. It is a state-level art gallery under the Ministry of Culture.
The principal tasks of the gallery are:
1. To collect and research modern and contemporary art works.
2. To display its collection and sponsor exhibitionsof Chinese and foreign paintings.
3. To establish archives of the history and works ofChina's modern and contemporary fine arts; to edit andpublish the gallery's collection of paintings and to organize academic activities.
Since its establishment, China Art Gallery has held all the national exhibitions of fine arts, photography and calligraphy, such as art exhibitions held during the Chinese Art Festival. It has also held many exhibitions of foreign fine arts in China and exhibited for many times in foreign countries its collection and other art works to help people in other countries know China's achievements in cultural and art fields and to enhance international cultural and art exchange.
China Art Gallery is a treasure house of the rare modern and contemporary Chinese art workS. It has edited and published the ColleCtion of China Art Callefy and collection of masterpieces of famous Chinese painters.
China Art Gallery covers an area of 17,051 square meters. The floor space of its exhibition halls is 6,000 square meters. This magnificent structure with advanced exhibition facilities is a great hall of art well known throughout the country and other Parts of the world.
This museum tells the history of China through its wars. It has a collection of rockets, tanks, planes and other toys for military aficionadoes. There are plenty of other things for the rest of the family, including an exhibit of gifts received by China from the rest of the world.
There are many art galleries throughout Beijing. I personally reccomend just finding a real modern artist at Tienanmen Square to truely see Beijing's artwork. However, there are many galleries as well. I can think of five different ones:
1) China Art Gallery - Zhong1 guo2 Mei3 shu4 guan3 : There are many paintings and photos. This is a great place to see modern chinese art. The enterence fee is Y4 and the gallery is open from 9:00 to 17:00 Tues. - Sun.. Phone: 6401 7076 Address: 1 Wusi Dajie, Beijing.
2) Red Gate Gallery - Hong2 men2 Hua4 lang2 : Some artwork, see their website for more: www.china.redgate-gallery.com . The gallery is open from 10:00 to 17:00, I don't remember the enterence fee. Phone: 6525 1005.
3) Courtyard Gallery : nice art gallery and has a good restaurant. Address: 95 Donghuamen Dajie Phone: 6526 8882.
4) Kebab Cafe Gallery - art gallery and cafe.
5) Wan Fung Art Gallery - This gallery is located near the Forbidden City and across from the imperial palace. It has a really nice setting and some good art as well. You can check out their website at www.wanfung.com.cn . Phone: 6523 3320.
This is the place dedicated to the communists of the world. As you enter the museum there is a statue of Mao and posters of him, as well as Stalin, Lenin, Deng, and many others. The admission fee is Y5 and the museum is open from 8:30 to 17:00 daily.
This Museum in the western part of the city has many Chinese weapons, bombs, missles, tanks, guns, uniforms. On the other floors were historical displays of weapons from China's different periods. It is a very educational museum. Admission is 5RMB. A bargin. Hours are 8:30-5:30pm. You can get there on a bus from Tianiman Square buses 1,4, 57 or the subway and get off at Junshi Bowuguan right in front of the Museum
The big bell temple. It has a massive bell inside the temple. It is simply titanic. There is also an enjoyable collection of bells from around China and the world.