This is the entrance to the Temple of Heaven, which is a Taoist temple.
The circular building is the Temple of Heaven. The rectangular buildings include (1) the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest and (2) the Imperial Vault of Heaven.
This is the inside of the Temple of Heaven. So many of the ancient traditions that occurred here seem to parallel Hebrew traditions from the Old Testament. For instance, at the entrance, there are places where they made animal sacrifices for spiritual cleansing. Only the emperor was permitted to enter this circular temple. Between the columns and at the top of the stairs is a plaque. The plaque has the name of a God that they were not even permitted to speak aloud. Kind of sounds like the Yahweh of the Old Testament, huh? Our tour leader said that it is believed that the ancient Hebrews had interaction with the Chinese and that some Old Testament traditions were then incorporated into the Taoist religion.
While some of our group went shopping at the popular Pearl Market, others of us walked through the old part of Beijing part of town that has narrow streets and small homes with people in poverty. The Chinese flag was being flown everywhere because they were celebrating their October 1 holiday of the National Day of the People’s Republic of China, which began in 1949. The government owns homes, so people rarely do much to improve their homes because, when the government makes them move (no, they don’t get to decide when they want to move), they don’t get to sell their homes for profit. (America, are you listening? Socialism/Communism does not work!)
This little metal car is an example of individual transportation. Most people walk or ride bicycles or scooters. Only the wealthy own cars.
We ate at a tiny (and a bit dirty) restaurant in old Beijing that didn't even have a sign out front. As appetizers, we had boiled peanuts and slices of beef with garlic that kind of had a vinegary pickled flavor. The main course was spinach dumplings with some kind of meat. They were DELICIOUS! (Now, bring on the wise cracks that we were probably eating cat meat. Who knows!!!)
Elwood & Kathie Morgan and me in Tiananmen Square. The huge flower statue is only there temporarily for the October 1 National Day, which kicks off Golden Week and would be comparable to July 4 for the USA.
This is the Communist headquarters right across the street from Tiananmen Square. As a conspicuous group of Westerners, we had to be very careful about what we said out in public at this location. When we stopped to ask questions or talk about historical events connected with this location, police officers would gather near us to eavesdrop. (By the way, neither police officers nor citizens can own guns. Only the Communist government can have guns. Are you listening, America?)
This is the entrance to the Forbidden City, which was built for the ancient emperors but was also used by Mao Tse-tung. Our tour director said that it was more forbidden to get out than to get in (although they made it very hard to get in by layers of walls, temples, and other barricades). Hundreds of concubines and eunuchs lived in the Forbidden City to serve the emperor, and they were never permitted to leave. It is sad to see the Chinese still venerate Mao, who was a Marxist-Leninist and established the single-party Communist system that has existed in China since 1949. I don’t understand how they can still honor a leader who killed more of his own people than did Hitler.
It’s common to see statues of Guardian Lions flanking the entrances to temples and important government buildings. On one side, the male lion always has one paw over a ball symbolizing supremacy over the world. The female lion has a paw over a baby lion representing the nurturing of the nation’s children.
In the Forbidden City, there are layers and layers of walls and other fortresses before you ever reach the emperor's palace.
Many of the scenes in Disney's Mulan are depicted as being in this location.
The rocks were brought into the Forbidden City and constructed like this to give the children a place to play in the garden. I guess this would be the equivalent of the expensive rock walls we build for folks to climb on today.