The 8 Best Historical Sites in China

China is one of the world’s four ancient civilizations and is a country enveloped in valuable history and culture. Even after its rapid economic growth, historical sites in China are preserved and are the embodiment of a fascinating culture that dates back nearly 5,000 years ago. These ancient destinations are proof of the skillful workmanship of the Chinese and are the representation of its architecture.

It is even more amazing that China’s incredible advancement has not once clouded its time-valued culture and tourists from all around the world still flock over to ancient destinations. 

The Best Historical Sites in China that You Need to Visit

If you want to learn more and see firsthand the culture and history of the Land of the Red Dragon, head over to these historical sites in China and be fascinated by its beauty and story. 

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is the nation’s iconic infrastructure and is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Also known in Chinese as ‘Changcheng’ or the ‘Long Wall’, the Great Wall of China stretches more than 6,000 kilometers, from the Shanhaiguan in the east to Jiayugan in the west. The wall passes through Hebei, Tientsin, Beijing, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Gansu. The best-preserved parts of the wall are in Beijing and are famous tourist attractions. 

Its walls are 6 to 8 meters in height but rise as high as 16 meters and exhibit various battlements and watchtowers. Visiting the Great Wall of China has to be one of the best things to do while in the country.

Historical Sites in China

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace, is located at the heart of Beijing and is another of China’s must-visit locations. This fascinating infrastructure was built between 1406 and 1420 and is China’s largest and most important building. It is the home to 24 Ming and Qing Emperors and is known for forbidding entry against those who are not part of the imperial family and their courtesans. 

It covers about 720,000 square meters of land and is protected by a 10-meter-high wall, complete with watchtowers and a wide moat. 

The Imperial Palace is a huge complex that caters to ceremonial and administrative purposes but also serves as a private residence for the emperor. 

Historical Sites in China

The Terracotta Army

Located on the outskirts of Xi’an is China’s most important archeological find, the Terracotta Army. It was discovered by farmers that were digging wells in the 1970s. It is scattered all over three large underground pits and was made to guard the First Emperor’s tomb. The site included more than 8,000 life-size warriors, about 520 horses, and more than a hundred chariots, alongside other non-military characters in the 280 BC. 

Some structures were severely damaged but many of the statues were re-assembled to put importance on the emperor and the afterlife. 

Historical Sites in China

The Yangtze River

China’s Yangtze River is also known as Chang Jiang or the ‘Long River.’ It is more than 6,000 kilometers long and is the longest and most important river in China. In addition, is the third-longest in the world, coming after the Amazon and the Nile. 

The river flows from Tibet in the west to Shanghai in the east. It passes through 8 provinces and for more than 2,000 years, has been China’s major transportation route. 

Due to its length, there are several points that can be visited by locals and tourists but the most popular point is the amazing Three Gorges – Qutang, Wu, and Xiling – a 200-kilometer stretch nestled between the towns of Fengjie and Yichang. 

The Classical Gardens of Suzhou

The Classical Gardens of Suzhou is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and is one of the world’s most important historic gardens. It is located in the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province and was established in the 11th century. 

Of all the surviving and restored gardens, the most famous is the Garden of Lingering, a 7-acre site laid out in 1800. It is one of China’s well-known garden complexes and features a pool, charming buildings, a man-made hill, beautiful peach trees, and a covered pathway with walls engraved with old Chinese characters. 

The Potala Palace

Located in the town of Lhasa, Tibet is one of China’s most recognizable historic structures. The Potala Palace was built as a fortress and residence of the Dalai Lama. For centuries, it was a center of political and religious power and is the home to one of the religion’s most valued treasures. 

The Potala Palace is made up of 2 palaces. The Red Palace was built in the 17th century and contains important shrines, as well as vast halls that highlight the religion’s teaching. The second place is the White Palace which was completed in 1648 and includes sleeping quarters, studies, and reception rooms. Most of these quarters are untouched since 1959 when the Dalai Lama left Tibet. 

Leshan Giant Buddha

The Leshan Giant Buddha’s construction started in AD 713 by a Buddhist monk and was completed 90 years later. It is an important religious icon that is carved entirely from a stone cliff. It is the largest Buddha sculpture in the world, measuring 71 meters tall. 

The status represents the Budhha Maitreya and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Up to date, it is still one of China’s must-visit attractions. 

The Mausoleum of Light: The Northern Imperial Tomb

In the mountainous northeastern region of Shenyang dwells the Mausoleum of Light, also known as the Northern Imperial Tomb. It is included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s list under the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties and is a revered historic site in northeastern China. 

The tomb is acclaimed for its distinct architectural style, which is a combination of traditional Chinese burial sites and castle-like buildings from the early Qing period. 

It covers more than 180,000 square meters and is the resting place of Emperor Huang Taiji who ruled from 1626 to 1635. It took 8 years to complete. 

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