Beijing has not originated as the capital of China. As early as history can date back, the city was not even called Beijing. It was always known as the ?Northern Capital' in China. This was how Beijing was called and known prior to the rule of the third Ming emperor, Yongle, who then declared Beijing as the capital of the Middle Kingdom in the 15th century. Therefore, it is from the early 15th century, that Beijing has gained much significance and is regarded as one of the most important cities of China. The credit goes to the ?Sons of Heaven' (the Chinese emperors) who used to rule the country from length and breadth of the Forbidden City (Morgenstern, 1989, 23-25). Due to this great conquest, many stunning and astonishing temples and palaces were built in Beijing and I shall be analyzing some of the monuments as architectural achievements. This essay will be divided into four parts. In the first part, I shall focus my attention on a brief description on the history of the city. Thereafter, I shall be dwelling into the Chinese traditional principles of architecture especially targeting Beijing's major architectural achievements (including the Forbidden City for instance). I will be relating these architectural developments to the Chinese society, its philosophy and in a wider sense the urban culture and its development in China. Lastly I shall describe the modernization of the city and its architecture, as well as that of its urban culture and political organization in the second part of the 20th century.
[...] Today Beijing remains the capital of China and one of the most important Chinese cities. It has a population of about 7.5 million of people and the 4th highest density in China (888/km²). It is also a very rich town which has the second highest GDP per capita (Gross Domestic Product) and HDI (Human Development Index) in China (wikipedia). It results from this that it is the wealthiest city in China after Shanghai. II) The principles of Chinese traditional architecture: Chinese architecture and Chinese society It results from what we have seen that architecture and politics used to be closely linked in China. [...]
[...] As a result the architecture of Beijing aimed above all to reflect the power of the dynasties that ruled it. The gigantic scale at which the Ming tombs (which is not too far from Beijing) and the Forbidden City were built is a good illustration of the fact that Chinese emperors wanted to build impressive buildings that would mirror their power. However these impressive achievements were not always huge complexes. Chinese emperors also wanted to show their wealth and power by the beauty of their achievements. [...]
[...] IV) Modern Beijing We have analyzed the traditional architecture of Beijing which is typical of Imperial China with Tian'anmen, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Peace and so on. This is one of the main architectural styles in Beijing, but we should bear in mind that Beijing is a modern city and also contains many modern buildings nowadays. This modern architecture may take different forms, including high-rise blocks which wikipedia describes as bland, and poorly made”. However modern architecture in Beijing comprises also more impressive and futuristic achievements (i.e. [...]
[...] Nonetheless, in 1644, the Ming dynasty was overthrown by the Manchu invaders (the Ch'ing dynasty) who ruled over China from Beijing between 1644 and 1912 (Bussagli 117). It shows clearly that the city known today as Beijing has been a major political centre for a very long time. This illustrates thereby a certain aspect of the urban culture that has characterized Beijing since the first millennium BC. As a matter of fact Beijing has always been concentrating political powers and social elites and it was still true in the 20th century. [...]
[...] This is an illustration of the success of modern and Western architecture in Beijing today, and the way it changes the structure if the Chinese capital. Furthermore the modernization of China is also a remarkable watershed in the history of Beijing's urban culture. As a matter of fact it involves deep changes in the Chinese society. China is more and more open to Foreign Direct Investments and less and less communist. Thus the construction of the 13th line of the underground railway in Beijing was not only done by the communist government, but also with the financial help of the private sector (Logan, 2002). [...]
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