The next Olympic Winter Games will be the third consecutive Games in Asia, this time hosted in the stunning Beijing, home of the Summer Games in 2008. It now becomes the first city in history to host both a Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Famous for its ancient Chinese architecture and steeped in history, there is so much to see and experience in this fantastic city.

Beijing has served as the capital of China for most of the last millennium. No other city has had such a long-lasting political and cultural impact on an area as massive as China. Nearly every major building in Beijing has some national historical significance.

As one of the world’s great ancient capitals, the city also boasts the greatest collection of the finest remnants of China’s imperial past, such as the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the Temple of Heaven.

However, as befits the capital of the world’s fastest-growing economy, eye-catching modern architecture includes the China Central Television (CCTV) Building with its unique cantilevered design and the new National Stadium, built for the Beijing 2008 Olympics and popularly called the “Bird’s Nest” because its interlocking outer framework makes it look like a nest.

But traditional Beijing is to be found in the siheyuan (courtyard houses) and hutong (alleys) that are scattered across the city. The thousands of narrow lanes that twist through the older sections are a living museum of how the Chinese lived in the past with each alley telling its own story about the local history and culture.

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