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History About The Beijing Gates And Walls

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Beijing City Gates And Walls

The city of Beijing is tremendous in size.Almost all people who have visited Beijing have the common impression that it is very big. If you want to make an investigation of it, you will be at a loss to decide where to make the first probe.

Beijing is not only the capital of New China. It was the secondary capital of what is called the Liao Dynasty and the central capital of what is calling the Jin Dynasty in the history of China. It was the capital of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. It is not difficult to imagine how tragic the historical events were that occurred here. The Liao Dynasty was established by an alien people, who occupied a large part of China's territory on the north side of the Yangtze River and were constantly at war with the Chinese people. The Liao Dynasty lasted more than two hundred years (907---1125). There are many stories about the heroic struggle that the Chinese waged against the Liaos. But it was a new invading power, the Jin people, that completely destroyed the Liaos. The Jins originated in what is now the northeastern part of China.

After defeating the Liaos they invaded China and occupied the entire territory on the north side of the Yangtze River. The emperor of China (of the then Soong Dynasty) fled to the south of the Yangtze River. The Jins killed the Liaos and treated the Chinese on the north side of Yangtze as slaves and servants. The Jin Dynasty existed for one hundred and twenty years. Then the Mongols came. They literally annihilated the Jins and later took possession of the entire territory of China. They founded the Yuan Dynasty and located their "Big Capital"at Beijing. The Ming and Qing Dynasties that followed Yuan also designated Beijing as their capital city. It is really inconceivable that the filthy and abominable sediments of a history of one thousand years of slaughter and oppression could have been swept off in a few years after the inauguration of the People's Republic of China. Now let's ruminate over the past events and contemplate in a spirit of scientific research the relics that meet our observant gaze.

Beijing Gate

The city of Beijing in the era of the Ming and Qing dynasties was a "city of cities", because it was made up of three layers of city wall or, in other words, three concentric city walls. The innermost circle of this city of cities was what is commonly called the "Forbidden City"or "Palace City". Its wall was 6 li (3,000 meters) in circumference and has four gates, namely the Front Gate, the Gate of Divine Prowess, the Eastern Gate and the Western Gate. The central or second circle was the wall of the imperial city, which was 18 li (9,000 meters) in circumference and also had four gates, namely the Heavenly Peace Gate (Tian An Men), the Earthly Peace Gate, the Eastern Peace Gate and Western Peace Gate. The outmost circle was the capital city wall, which was a two-layer wall. The inner city wall was 46 li (23,000 meters) in circumference and had nine gates. The central gate was most lofty and magnificent and served only for the emperors to enter and leave the capital. The well-known city of Beijing is in reality made up of these layers of brick walls and ponderous iron gates.

When you look at the city map of Beijing, the first impression you will get may be that Beijing has an enormous number of gates. As a matter of fact, most of these gates are now physically nonexistent. They were dismantled a long time ago. Although the gate names are now only "nominal"titles, yet, ironically, these nominal titles have become in fact "immortal". Those Beijing old-timers who have no clear memory of the physical appearance of the gates are really few and rare. Even the outlanders who never saw the real gates before may have repeated their names so often as to feel vaguely their physical presence. The reason is that the main roads in the central area of Beijing are almost all named by means of using these gate names (plus a word indicating the geographical direction, i.e. out, in, East, West, South, or North ). The names may be, for example, the Front Gate Big Street, the Front Gate Westward Big Street, the Front Gate Eastward Big Street, the Fuxing Gate Outward Big Street, …Inward Big Street, ….Southward Big Street, …Northward Big Street, the Jianguo Gate Outward Big Street, etc.

Therefore, people say that when you have come to Beijing and want to find a certain place, you must, first of all, find the Gate.

Beijing Gates and Walls

It may be said with some degree of assurance that anyone who wants to understand Beijing will feel that he/she does not know by what door or gate he/she can get in. So you must first find the gate which is the entrance to the city.

If you know you are in the vicinity of a certain Gate and the place you are seeking is close to that Gate, you will not lose your way in any case. Furthermore, if you ask the way in Beijing, the Beijing inhabitants will often tell you that the place is near a certain Gate or you should go to such and such a Gate. Therefore, though gates are rarely seen as a physical entity in Beijing, they will not be "strangers"to you. On the contrary, you will feel that they are quite close and intimate to you.

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