because on day two we went so early to the great wall we also arrived relatively early to the city centre and we got the chance to go visit the lama temple known as well as yonhegong temple which means palace of heaven and harmony.
although this is a very tourist place, a fair amount of people come here to pray.
as other temples in china, this one was first the residence of the emperor's son while he was growing up, after he became the emperor himself, it was turned into a temple.
one of the attractions of this temple is the three bronze statues of the buddhas of the three ages, the buddha of the present (center), of the past (right), and of the future (left).
there were so many people praying in this builing also known as hall of harmony and peace that i couldn't take a proper picture of the three buddhas (lets face it, i didn't think it was fair to bother their pray just for another photo that I won't see ever again), but here is what i could capture:
enjoy some of other photos taken on the temple
and we were so good at this that we had time to visit the forbiden city, the winter palace (also known as beihai park), a garden next to the forbiden city (the one were people were pushing everyone to get in) and then the tianánmen square. it was an intense morning, we arrived to the airport around 2pm and we were starving. but as it is a quite small airport we had time to have our lunch and still go through security and all of that stuff.
the forbiden city it was a visit that left me with mixed feelings.
first, to go in we had to go through a massive security check, then inside (witch is not really inside) we bought the tickets and then we had to go again through security to finally enter the forbiden city.
let me see if i can explain the reason of my frustration:
the main entrance is done where the red circle on the map below and on the photo above, so far so good. we go in, buy our tickets and then we have to go through security again, that's on the green circle. this is where you actually enter the forbiden city. so we go in, we have a good time, we exit through the gate opposite the green circle right at the back. we visit the winter palace that it is just in front of the forbiden city exit.
on our way back to visit the tianánmen square that it is just in front of the main gate (red circle) we find out that people have been entering the premises through the gates with the blue colour and without any security check.
this have puzzled me and i still don't know the reason why of this. anyone that comes through the
sides don't have to go through the first security and it can walk around freely between the red and green circle
image from the webpage http://www.essential-architecture.com/CHINA/PEKING/PE-005.htm
oohh well, moving on...
inside, all the main halls, the ones that you can see on the main path, were close - it was a bit of a disappointment. without that to satisfy our curiosity, the plazas just seemed too big, so full of nothing. don't get me wrong, it looked grand and very imperial like but just too empty, and not of buildings or people, but of nature. all the space between the halls was just concrete.
the tour became interesting for me when we started to wonder on the sides. there you will see other buildings that were partially open, i.e., you could see inside without actually entering, but the best part was all of the vegetation and trees that made the place look amazing, full of life although it might not have a lot of people. it definitely look more cosy and pleasant to walk by.
but don't take for my word, check the pics below and let me know your opinion.
this tree is a sabina chinensis and the sign next to it says the following:
"with its splendid shape and great adaptability , the cypress is indispensable ornamental tree in traditional chinese garden. in perfect harmony with ancient architecture, it is live cultural heritage that can never be reproduced."
i have tried to do some research about this type of tree but my search engine in asia does not work properly and couldn't find anything relevant. if you do your own research let me know what you have found.
after the forbiden city we headed straight to the winter palace. you can see it from the forbiden city and it seems as the palace is sitting on the top of the trees branches. and when you reach the palace you have and amazing view over the forbiden city
after the winter palace it was time to go around the forbiden city from the outside and head to our next part of the tour.
it is a very beautiful walk back to the other side of the forbiden city.
the last visit of our journey was one of the most famous public squares in the world, unfortunately not for the best reasons.
we all have seen the photo of the student in front of a tank trying to stop it's advances during the students protests in this same square.
the square is totally surrounded by a somewhat short fence and you can only enter the square through the authorized entrances - forget about crossing the road, there are guards everywhere.
in the photo below you can see in the front the monument to the people's heroes and in the back the mausoleum of mao zedong.