Chinese Empires

Summer Palace, Beijing, China

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The Summer Palace is a vast complex of lakes, gardens, and palaces in Beijing. While it was an imperial garden in Qing Dynasty, the Summer Palace dates back to the Jin dynasty in 1153, when the Jin capital was moved from Huining Prefecture to Yanjing in the Fragrant Hills and Jade Spring Hill in the northwest of Beijing.

In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace on its World Heritage List. It declared the Summer Palace “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design. The natural landscape of hills and open water is combined with artificial features such as pavilions, halls, palaces, temples and bridges to form a harmonious ensemble of outstanding aesthetic value”.

Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’An China

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The Terracotta Army is a collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE with the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Xi’an, People’s Republic of China.

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. The pits are estimated to contain more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.

Great Wall of China

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The Great Wall of China is a series of stone, brick and wood fortifications built along the historical northern borders of China to protect the Chinese states and empires against the raids and invasions of the various nomadic groups of the Eurasian Steppe. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC and were later joined together and made bigger and stronger.  The especially famous part of the wall was built in 220–206 BC by Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. Little of that wall remains. The majority of the existing wall is from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).

The wall with all of its branches measures out to be 13,171 miles, and is today recognized as one of the most impressive architectural feats in history.

Forbidden City, Beijing

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The Forbidden City is the former Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty (the years 1420 to 1912).  Located in Beijing, it now houses the Palace Museum. The Forbidden City served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.

Constructed from 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers over 180 acres. UNESCO declared The Forbidden City a World Heritage Site in 1987, and it is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

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