Beijing Underground City

Having served as a bomb shelter for over 20 years, Beijing Underground City lies right beneath the capital’s downtown area. Officially opened for visitors back in 2000, the underground city consists of a special network tunnels and is one of the most distinctive and intriguing tourist attractions in the city. As its was created for military defense, it is also referred to as Underground Great Wall.

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Top 5 attractions of Beijing

A blend of the old and the modern, Beijing is an acclaimed tourist destination owing to its numerous cultural and historical attractions. The unrivalled top attraction in the city is the Great Wall of China, followed by the sprawling Forbidden City which is the best place from which to start your sightseeing tour in the city. Two more attractions which hardly need any introduction are the Tiananmen Square and Temple of Heaven, rich in historical significance. Having served as a summer retreat for emperors, Summer Palace is also a must visit attraction for leisure travellers. Those seeking to stay at one of the luxury hotels and resorts in the country will be pleased to find those of Raffles Hotels & Resorts which is a highly reputed luxury hotel group in the world.

Prince Gong Mansion In Beijing – A Window into the Qing Dynasty

Located west of Beijing’s Forbidden City, the Prince Gong Mansion (also called the Gong Wang Fu Museum) is the biggest and best preserved examples of architecture from the Qing Dynasty. In total, the mansion and its gardens span an area of around sixty thousand square metres. The gardens are located on the northern side of the compound while the buildings are found to the south. Among the buildings are a couple of siheyuan courtyards and a Grand Peking Opera house. The extensive gardens contain numerous scenic sites, ponds, pavilions and even artificial rocky hills.

The residence was built in 1777 for He Shen, a minister of the Qing Dynasty who became a trusted advisor for the Emperor Qianlong at a young age. However, He Shen was charged with corruption during Emperor Jiaqing’s rule and was executed in 1799. The mansion was then given to Prince Qing Junwang, the youngest of Emperor Qianlong’s seventeen sons. Ownership fell to the eponymous Prince Gong, Emperor Xiangfeng’s brother, in 1851. The mansion remained in the family until the Prince’s grandson mortgaged it to the Benedictine Order of the Catholic Church in 1921. By that time the mansion was in a pretty bad state of repair, but the Order carried out extensive renovations and converted the mansion into a university.

The Furen Catholic University operated until 1951 when the Benedictines were forced out of China. The mansion was subsequently used as the premises for the Beijing Normal University, the Chinese Music Academy and even as a Beijing Air Conditioning Factory before it was designated as one of the country’s cultural heritage sites in 1982. The various buildings and gardens were finally opened to the public in 1996. In 2008, it was converted into a museum that provides visitors with fascinating insights into the royals of the Qing Dynasty as well as other aspects of the era. When visiting here one should also try to catch a show at the Peking opera house.

The Prince Gong Mansion is not too far from the Forbidden City. Tourists looking for Beijing luxury hotels in the area can try the Raffles Beijing Hotel. The popular Beijing hotel is the ideal place to stay being just a few minutes away from the city’s landmark attractions.