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► CHINA’S ARCHITECTURE IN PHOTOS

The 2008 Olympic Stadium in Beijing is perhaps the most enduring symbol of the games and fascinating building to view with its iconic outer structure creating the Bird’s Nest look that captured the public’s imagination during the games.

Not as well known as the Bird’s Nest stadium is the huge National Centre for Performing Arts located just to the West of Tiananmen Square. Nick-named “The Egg” it is an impressive structure encasing world class theatre and concert facilities.

Although few individual buildings in Beijing’s ancient residential “hutong” districts are outstanding the layout and areas as a whole are of great architectural merit and give an insight into how old Beijing once looked before all the tall buildings took over. Thankfully much as been preserved

   
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The vast Forbidden City is made up of 980 buildings covering a huge area of Central Beijing. Impossible to see in just one visit the 15th Century palace complex can be overwhelming to start and it is best to focus on the main south to north axis.

Ming Architecture from the Temple of Heaven to Pingyao

The Temple of Heaven is regarded by many to be one of China’s most beautiful buildings and the finest example of Ming architecture. On a far more human scale than the Forbidden City the temple is set amongst a vast and popular park.

The vast sweeping riverside promenade of Shanghai's Bund is looking better than ever these days after a major renovation project completed in 2010. The beautiful European colonial architecture is now joined by the best views of Pudong’s skyscrapers.

Home for centuries to the Dalai Lamas of Tibet the Potala is one of the world’s most amazing buildings and the premiere sight in Tibet. The interior is as fascinating as the exterior making this building alone worth the trip to Tibet.

There are several walled cities in China still in existence but our favourite is Pingyao as the area inside the city wall is preserved in all it’s Ming Dynasty glory. Once the centre of China’s banking they city now hosts an annual photography festival.

Across from Shanghai’s Bund is the brand new financial district of Pudong with it’s impressive skyline of cloud catching skyscrapers that did not exist just 20 years ago and are a very real statement of China’s economic rise.

Silk Road delights of Kashgar & Jiayuguan

Xinjiang province’s remote Silk Road trading city of Kashgar has architecture far more wedded to Central Asia than China. From mosque to mausoleums to the warren of streets winding through the mud brick old city it offers something quite different.

This huge fort located at Jiayuguan along the northern Silk Road was, for centuries, the entrance and exit of China proper  - it’s customs and immigration - separating the realm of Chinese civilisation with the “barbarous” and feared lands to the West.

The Chen Family Clan complex in Guangzhou is the a riot of colour and carvings that makes other temples look quite staid. Originally an academy of learning for one of China’s main family’s the temple complex is now open to the public.

This UNESCO recognised old city of Lijiang is Yunnan province’s top draw and very popular with tourists. However, it is easy to get away from the masses and get ‘lost’ in the maze of streets that make up this architectural wonder.

Hong Kong’s harbour skyline is famous worldwide as one of the most impressive cityscapes. Whether you view it from Kowloon side or from Victoria Peak or just wander amongst the towers themselves there is a special dynamism to be felt.