China is a country packed full of ancient traditions, intriguing cultures and eye-wateringly beautiful landscapes. And of the forty five historically important UNESCO World Heritage listed properties across China, we take a closer look at our favourite five;
The Great Wall
Perhaps the most famous of China's heritage sites, the Great Wall is one of the great wonders of the world and was listed by UNESCO in 1987. The wall is much older than that, of course, with sections beginning construction during the warring states period of ancient China's history in the 7th century BC and taking roughly 2,000 years to become what it is today during the Ming Dynasty. Sadly, with anything that's of great age, sections of the wall have been lost to time. The wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east to Lop Lake in the west and covers a staggering distance of 13,171 miles. A persistent and largely debunked myth is that you can see the great wall from space.
The Forbidden City in Beijing, or the Palace Museum as it is known, was the imperial palace that housed no less than 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Forbidden City is named for a belief that no citizen could enter the palace without express permission of the Emperor himself. Of course, there is no Emperor of China now, the last one abdicated in 1912, ending over a millennia of Imperial rule in China. There are many rare and wonderful artifacts and treasures that have been collected over the course of the palace's long and rich history and these are now available to be viewed by the public. Choose a specialist operator such as those offered by Wendy Wu China Tours to get a real insight into the ancient culture. Collectively the Imperial Palaces of both the Ming and Qing Dynasties within Beijing and Shenyang form one World Heritage Listing, inscribed in 1987.
Lushan National Park
The vast lush Lushan National Park is another of China's many wonderful and historic sites. Covering an area of over 300 square miles, the park has more than 90 mountain peaks and has 12 main scenic areas that include 37 attractions, one of which is Sandie Spring, a beautiful 500 foot waterfall that leaves tourists stunned with its natural beauty and fascinating twists and turns of the fall that make it resemble a number of things. Visitors must not miss this wonderful attraction and many more on a visit to Lushan.
Ancient City of Pingyao
Pingyao is a region that embodies the culturally rich history of ancient China and the old city is a must see on any visit to this region. For a hundred years during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city was a lot like China's Wall Street. Although it's no longer an economic hotspot, Pingyao is a tourist hotspot now thanks to its grand residences and wonderful examples of ancient Chinese architecture.
Earth Towers of the Hakkas
These incredible buildings were constructed over a thousand years ago by the Hakka people. Using fire resistant materials, they were spacious, practically impregnable and made up of varying shapes such as square, rectangular and round. The round buildings are the most famous of the Hakka towers, the larger of these have three rings and can house up to 58 rooms. This is an incredible example of ancient engineering which has earnt the towers a much-coveted UNESCO listing. It is believed that in the 15th century, Japanese pirates who intruded on the coastal waters would never go near the Hakka Earth Towers.