From the center of Beijing.
Almost everyone who comes to Beijing visits the Forbidden City, one of China's highlights. Afterward, most people go back to their hotel, or at least to a different part of the city. But if you cross the road to the north, you can visit lovely Jingshan Park (景山公园), in the exact center of Beijing
. Not only is the park beautiful, with great views of the city and mountains, but is has some interesting history, as well. This is where Congzhen, the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, fled after Beijing fell in 1644. Out of options, the emperor hung himself from a tree
near the park's entrance.
Looking up at Jing Shan Park.
One of the buildings on the way to the top.
If you go on a clear day, you'll be rewarded with a view of the mountains to the west.
This temple is at the top of the hill in the middle of the park.
From the top you can get a great view of the Forbidden City.
Looking north, you can see the Bell and Drum Towers. Olympic Park is on the horizon.
Leaving Jingshan Park, walk a block to the west and you'll see Beihai Park (北海公园), easily recognizable from its iconic White Tower (白塔) pagoda. This is another beautiful park that sees few visitors, at least when compared with the Forbidden City.
Beihai Park is a block from Jingshan.
Lions guard the entrance.
The iconic white dagoba is in the middle of the park. It was built in 1651 to honor the fifth Dalai Lama.
The tiled roofs in Beihai Park are typical of Beijing's ancient architecture.
You can rent one of these paddle boats to cruise around Beihai Lake.
The buildings provide a peaceful atmosphere for walking.
Beihai might be the least popular lake in Beijing. That makes for some tranquil sunsets.
If you're coming to Beijing, Jingshan and Beihai Parks are both worth checking out. Try to visit them on a clear day!
More photos from Jingshan Park
More photos from Beihai Park