Landmarks in China – 10 Most Famous

Whether you are visiting for the first time or just stopping by for a visit, there are plenty of amazing landmarks in China.

These landmarks include the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven, to name a few.

You should also check out the Leshan Giant Buddha, the Summer Palace, and the Bund during your stay.

Famous Landmarks in China

1. Great Wall of China

Great Wall of China

Listed as one of the World’s New Seven Wonders, the Great Wall of China is a massive manufactured structure stretching 6,400 km (3,977 miles).

It was built over two millennia across northern China to protect the Chinese Empire from the nomadic tribes of the Eurasian Steppe.

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The Great Wall of China comprises stone and earth ramparts and a series of fortifications, including barracks, trenches, and guard towers. Most of the Wall is made of solid stone, while a few sections are built from bricks and marble blocks.

The Wall varies in height and width, averages about 33 feet high, and is divided into several sections. It is also made up of a series of moats and ditches.

Today, the Great Wall of China faces threats from several sources. These include reckless tourists and opportunistic developers. But the greatest enemy of the Wall is desertification.

2. Forbidden City

Forbidden City

Known as the Forbidden City, this is China’s most prominent architectural ensemble.

During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the Forbidden City was the heart of the imperial throne, where emperors practiced their power over the nation. Its name in Chinese is Zijincheng (Purple Forbidden City).

Located in Beijing, UNESCO inscribed the Forbidden City as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1987. In addition to being a historical site, it is also a museum that houses more than one million pieces of cultural relics.

Also Read: Buildings in China

It took more than a decade to build this complex, and more than 100,000 artisans constructed it.

The palace was built as a place to house the Celestial Emperor. Besides, it was where life-cycle rituals such as weddings and funerals would take place. Therefore, it was considered a sacred place, and the emperors were supposed to be sons of heaven.

3. Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum

Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum

In the county of Lintong near Xi’an, Emperor Qinshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum is a significant tourist attraction in China. The Mausoleum is also known as the Terracotta Army.

It contains terracotta warriors and horses. These statues give a glimpse of Chinese military history and are considered essential works in sculpture.

Emperor Qinshihuang unified six warring states in 209 BCE, creating the first unified nation in China. Eight-thousand sculptures surround his tomb. Furthermore, he is buried beside the terracotta soldiers who guard the entrance to the afterlife.

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor was discovered by chance. Local farmers had planned to dig in a persimmon forest to fight drought. Instead, they found the ruins of terracotta figures and bronze weapons.

Visiting the terracotta statues will give a glimpse into the social history of the time.

4. Summer Palace

Summer Palace

Located in northwest Beijing, Summer Palace is a world-famous landmark. It is the most extensive imperial garden in China and one of the best preserved in the world.

The Qianlong Emperor created the Summer Palace in 1750. He ordered the construction of the Huishan Garden as part of the Summer Palace.

The garden is divided into political and imperial life areas and arranged around Kunming Lake, a large lake in the center of the garden. It features the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity and the Hall of Jade Ripples.

It is said that the architecture of the Summer Palace was designed to harmonize both land and water. It also served as a getaway for emperors, a storage site for art and artifacts, and a meeting point for diplomats and guests.

5. Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Originally built during the Ming Dynasty, the Temple of Heaven is one of China’s most significant ancient religious buildings.

Located in the south of the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven is one of the best-preserved historical sites in China.

It was designed to mark a point where the earth and heaven meet as the emperor would travel with an entourage to this place for ceremonies that featured musicians, noblemen, acrobats, and horse chariots.

The main buildings of the Temple of Heaven are the Circular Mound Altar, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, and the Imperial Vault of Heaven.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is one of the most impressive structures in the temple. It is a tall, circular building with a golden ball on the top, supported by immense pillars.

6. Potala Palace

Potala Palace

Located in Lhasa, Tibet, Potala Palace is one of the most famous museums in the world. It is also a primary pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhists.

In addition, it is the home of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Several generations of Dalai Lamas have been connected with the Potala.

The palace has been a center for religious and temporal administration for centuries. For instance, the first Potala was destroyed by warring Tibetan tribes in AD 877. The second Potala was built for the 5th Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, in 1645.

Potala’s wood and stone structures draw from traditional Himalayan architectural design. It is a large complex containing thousands of Buddha statues and other valuable artifacts.

7. Leshan Giant Buddha

Leshan Giant Buddha

The Leshan Giant Buddha is one of the most impressive landmarks in Sichuan. This iconic site is a popular tourist destination and is easy to get to from Chengdu.

The carved stone Buddha was designed to help people protect themselves from the tumultuous waters of the nearby Three Gorges. However, it took 90 years for the monk Hai Tong to complete the project.

The Leshan Giant Buddha stands 71 meters (233 feet) high and 24 meters (79 meters) wide. The inner parts of the Buddha are kept dry.

Since its construction, the Giant Buddha of Leshan has been maintained regularly. For instance, the Chinese government has spent more than 40 million dollars to protect the structure from erosion.

8. The Bund

The Bund

The Bund is a protected historic district in the city’s former International Settlement. It is a waterfront area in central Shanghai that was once home to the world’s second-largest banking institution.

In the 1920s, The Bund was the center of the Shanghai universe. It was where people from all over the world came to swarm. The streets were lined with boutiques and art galleries.

In the 1930s, The Bund was the place to be. It was the place to make a fortune. So many of the symbols of wealth sat along its banks and trading houses.

Nowadays, it is now a trendy restaurant and shopping district. Many photographers, history buffs, and night owls enjoy spending time here.

The Bund is best explored during the day, but the area is crowded at night. Visitors can walk the promenade for two and a half hours. There are several restaurants and a museum at the Astor House Hotel.

9. Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

At the heart of Beijing, Tiananmen Square is a major tourist attraction. This large public square is surrounded by the National Museum of History and Revolution and the Great Hall of the People.

If the name “Tiananmen Square” sounds familiar, this is no surprise. It has been home to national political events and massive student demonstrations.

Nevertheless, the Great Hall of the People and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong are two major attractions.

The Great Hall of the People is a massive venue for ceremonial activities, such as meetings of the Communist Party of China. T

The building has a banquet hall capacity of 5,000 people, 5-meter-high (16 feet) marble gateposts, and a floor covered in peach-pink marble. It was completed in 1959.

Mao’s Mausoleum is situated on the south side of the monument. Surrounded by flowers and fresh bouquets, it is the final resting place for Chairman Mao as his body lies in a crystal coffin inside one of the halls.

10. The Palace Museum

Palace Museum

Located in the capital city of Beijing, the Palace Museum (also known as the Forbidden City) is one of China’s most important and awe-inspiring landmarks.

The complex is a time capsule that shows how life in ancient Chinese society looked and is considered the most prominent architectural ensemble in the world.

The Forbidden City was constructed by the Ming emperor Yongle between 1406 and 1420. He called it a place of supreme power, which became the seat of power for five centuries and a time capsule of Chinese civilization.

The Forbidden City contains nearly a thousand rooms. Every room has been carefully preserved and contains well-preserved artifacts and furniture. Its interiors were restored after the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in 1911.

Today, the Forbidden City is a modern museum and educational institute. Its various components reflect the lifestyle of the royal family and court culture.