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Unearth Beijing’s Fascinating History on a Cultural Discovery

With a palace like no other, sublime temples and a criss-crossing of enchanting hutong alleyways, the Chinese capital is inextricably linked to its glorious, notorious past.
The Forbidden City’s moat in winter

Historic Beijing

Imperial architecture

FORBIDDEN CITY 1

This 9,000-room city within a city is the largest palace complex in the world and the best-preserved reminder of China’s imperial past, in use for 500 years until the last Qing dynasty emperor abdicated in 1912. An audio guide helps to make sense of the imposing halls, splendid gates and age-old relics (dpm.org.cn; 8.30am–4.30pm, to 5pm Apr–Oct, closed Mon; £4.20 Nov–Mar, £6.30 Apr–Oct).

SUMMER PALACE 2

A marvel of landscaping on the outskirts of the city, the imperial summer playground is a beguilling collection of temples, pavilions, gardens, lakes, bridges and corridors. Clamber up Longevity Hill for splendid views over the city or promenade around Kunming Lake and imagine what it must have been like to have had it all to yourself (summerpalace-china. com; park 7am–7pm, 6.30am– 8pm Apr–Oct; from £2.10).

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