A memorable day awaits with an excursion to the Sacred Way of Ming
Tombs and the Great Wall of China.
After breakfast, you take a drive to the northwest of Beijing to
visit the Sacred Way of Ming Tombs, regarded as China's finest example of
imperial tomb architecture. Situated in a peaceful valley, the site was chosen
by the Ming emperors as their burial place for its auspicious Fengshui
alignment. A ridge of mountains to the north cradles the tombs on three sides,
opening to the south and protecting the dead from the evil spirits carried on
the north wind. Here you will walk along the elegant Sacred Way that leads to
the tombs. Beginning with a grand marble gateway more than 400 years old, the
long avenue is lined with 36 massive stone sculptures of officials, lions,
elephants, camels and mythical beasts.
You enjoy lunch, and afterwards, take a scenic drive through the
countryside and mountains to reach China's most renowned monument - the Great
Wall. The wall was begun in the 5th century BC to keep out foreign invaders.
Construction continued for centuries, eventually linking up the walls of the
former independent kingdoms. The Great Wall meanders through China's northern
mountain ranges from the Yellow Sea to the Gobi Desert - a distance of more
than 3,500 miles! Chairman Mao once said, "You haven't walked on the Wall,
you haven't been a real hero."
And today, you'll not only visit the Great Wall, but experience it in more ways than one; learning some of the fascinating history and legend of this engineering marvel, climbing up to the highest point for panoramic views of this ancient edifice, exploring its impressive watchtowers, ramparts, carriageways at your own pace. Today is a highlight of your China trip.
Time permitting, we make a photo stop at the 'Bird Nest' and 'Water Cube,' where you visit the exterior portion of the main stadium of 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. The spectacular Bird's Nest stadium, hailed as the finest arena in the world and the centerpiece of the most expensive Olympics in history, is full of hidden symbolism. In Chinese mythology, the sun is represented by a circle and the moon by a square, reflected by the shape of the bird's nest and the Water Cube aquatic center opposite, reinforced when the venues are lit at night - red for the Bird's Nest and blue for the Water Cube. The shapes also echo the Chinese symbols for male and female, and are built either side of the north-south axis road which runs in a perfect straight line for three miles through Beijing, centered on the Forbidden City.