Imperial Tours’ China Luxury Travel Blog
In the face of modernization, China is struggling to preserve its cultural heritage, and nowhere is this more visible than in the ancient hutongs of Beijing.
I have never been an admirer of the hutongs from an architectural or historical point of view, it was more about the buzz I felt as I meandered down these narrow alleys, seeing them bursting with activity. Sadly, the city’s rapid growth will no longer allow these vibrant communities to remain in these areas. The governmen...
Home of the Emperor, the Forbidden Palace was constructed in accordance with the laws of geomancy or fengshui. Every element was considered according to its prescriptions, the most fundamental being the positioning of the palace along a north-south axis.
The occult art of numerology similarly played a significant part within the palace's architecture. Since odd numbers are thought to be masculine and even ones feminine, the number nine, the "ultimate masculine" number, was associa...
The History of the Silk and Fur Roads
The incursions of the Xiongnu, a savage Turkic tribe that regularly pillaged the towns on China's northern border, prompted the Han Emperor Wudi (r. 140-86BC) to seek Western allies for a joint attack. For this military reconnaissance mission he sent out one hundred men, led by Zhang Qian, who took thirteen years to report back with tales of glittering western cities and alien cultures. As soon as he did though, Zhang Qian was sent back in charge of a s...
The impetus for the construction of a palace on Lhasa's Red Hill came from King Songtsen Gampo (608-650) who commissioned it. This was smaller than its 5-square-mile (13-square-km) successor, which was named the Potala ("Pure Land," or "High Heavenly Realm"), after Mount Potalaka in India, the abode of Tibet's patron saint, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara of whom the Dalai Lama is the incarnation.
In 1645, the Fifth Dalai Lama (1645-1693), feeling confined at Drepung...
Owing to the wealth accumulated by Huizhou tradesmen from the mid-Southern Song (1127 - 1279) to Emperor Qianlong's reign (r. 1736-1796) in the Qing dynasty, an influential, regional architectural style was able to develop in Huizhou. Many features of this local style were incorporated in the architectural development of the south, in particular the canal towns of the Yangzi River delta. As you walk around Huizhou villages, you will want to watch out for the following details:
The history of the gardens at the New Summer Palace date back to the Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan; to improve Beijing's water supply, he ordered the construction of canals transporting water from the Western Hills to an enlarged lake, now known as the Summer Palace's Kunming Lake. Five hundred years later, Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736 - 1756) added lake-side gardens and a Temple for Gratitude and Longevity in honour of his mother's birthday.
It was not before 1875 however, that...
Yong Le (r. 1402-1424), the third Ming Emperor, moved the capital of China back to Beijing in order to fortify Northern China against the continuing threat of the bellicose Mongols. It was he that razed the palaces of Kublai Khan, built over a century earlier, to redesign the Forbidden and Imperial Cities in their new location slightly to the south-east. Since then, with only minor interruptions, the Forbidden City has served as an exclusive seat of government. Just as commoners were not allowed...
From 1120 in the Northern Song dynasty to the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Huangshan was located in what was known as the Huizhou prefecture.
Devotees of the "The Romance of the Three Kingdoms", a Chinese historical fiction that describes the warring period from 220-280 A.D., will be thrilled to learn that a former residence of General Caocao is located in Huizhou, and that near to it, nine Cao family tombs have been discovered.
Notwithstanding this third century claim to fame,...
Beijing or Northern Capital was made capital of the world's largest ever, land-based empire by the Mongol conqueror, Kublai Khan, in 1271. What was then the quiet market town of Yanjing was promptly remodelled into a glorious city befitting the attention and tributes of the world.
After the Mongols were overthrown in the coup of 1368, however, the first Ming Emperor Hongwu (r. 1368-1398) relocated the capital elsewhere. His descendant, unnerved by the continuing threat of the Mongols to the...
By James Shillinglaw
Shanghai – the very name evokes images of immense modernity, buildings touching the sky, and a center of commerce that is now one of the world’s great cities. Yet, Shanghai also has an ancient and colonial past; it was a city dominated by Western traders for a good part of the 20th century, at least until the Communist revolution swept capitalism aside -- until today at least!
I finally got a chance to visit this amazing metropolis last month on a 10-day travel...
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