Beijing is the cultural center of China. The history, theater and art that endow this city are impressive and while many of these pieces are as old as Chinese culture, they remain fresh and vivid.
Beijing is well-known for it's acrobatics, traditional performances, and dancing.
China undoubtable has some of the best acrobatics in the world and in Beijing they are here to perform.
Western style plays are rare and dramas have been slow to catch on. That said, there is a growing field of Chinese plays.
Theater Beijing is the official directory to all things theater in the city.
Beijing opera, also known as Peking opera (Ji-ngju), is well-respected. It is believed to be one of the highest achievements of Chinese culture. It is unique in that it is performed through a combination of song, spoken dialogue, and codified action sequences, such as gestures, movement, fighting and acrobatics. Much of Beijing opera is carried out in an archaic stage dialect quite different from Modern Standard Chinese and from modern Beijing dialect.
National Center for the Performing Arts or (NCPA)
Sometimes described as "The Egg", it is located in Xicheng District. This is the city's most modern theater complex and includes opera, music and theater. The Center is beautifully constructed with an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass, surrounded by a lake. It seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 meters in size.
The city contains some of the finest pieces in China as well as one of the largest and most well-known museums in Asia, the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City. China's government has recently been working to establish a more dynamic and respected collection of museums and has invested heavily in development. To increase viewership, many of the museums have been made free.
Palace Museum and the Forbidden City
Tickets: 40 (Nov. 1 to the next Mar. 31); 60 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31); plus 10 for the Treasure Gallery; 10 for the Clock and Watch Gallery
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is one of the most fascinating sites in Beijing. It is the largest and most well preserved imperial residence in China today. Construction began in 1406 and took 14 years. The compound is divided into two parts:
Southern Section or Outer Court- where the emperor exercised his supreme power over the nation.
Northern Section or Inner Court- where the emperor lived with the royal family.
National Museum of China
One of the most well-known museums in Beijing, the museum is located on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square in Dongcheng District. The mission of the museum is to educate about the arts and history of China. The collections spans from the Peking Man of 1.7 million years ago to the end of the Qing Dynasty (the last imperial dynasty). There are over 620,385 cultural items in its permanent art collection.
One of the most important collections are the "Simuwu Ding", a vessel from the Shang Dynasty. Over 3,000 years old, it weighs 832.84 kg.
Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution
In the Haidian District, this museum displays restored military equipment from the history of the People's Liberation Army. The collection runs up to modern-day machinery. There are four floors and ten halls. The largest is the Hall of Weapons with antiquated weaponry showcase domestic and foreign weapons, including blades, small arms, artillery, tanks, armored personnel carriers, anti-air weaponry, jet fighters, rockets, rocket launchers, and cruise missiles. Foreign weapons include: Soviet tanks purchased or donated during the 1950's and 1960's, American weaponry captured from the KMT during the Chinese Civil War and from UN forces during the Korean War, and Japanese weaponry captured during the Sino-Japanese War.
The Capitol Museum
Tickets: 20 RMB
This museum was recently re-vamped and there is now floor area of 60,000 square meters. There are 5,622 items on display with English and Japanese services. There is also an interactive multimedia hall.
Museum of Contemporary Art
Ticket: 20 RMB
Run by a non-profit organization and founded by internationally renowned artist, Qin Feng, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers art from China as well as internationally. There are exhibitions three times a year, education programs, scholarships and scholarly initiatives.
Beijing Dabaotai Xi Han Dynasty Tomb Museum
Tickets: 20 RMB
Address: South of Guogong Village, Fengtai District, Beijing; Tel. 86-10-83612852
A unique emperor site museum, this was built more than two thousand years ago. Located at Fengtai District near Beijing World Park, the museum covers an area of 18,000 square meters. Its main exhibition is the underground site of unearthed culture relics. Three carriages and eleven horses are buried together in the tomb channel.
Cultural Palace of Minorities
Located on the west end of Chang'an Street, this museum covers issues with different nationalities. In the multi-story building there are 30,000 objects. There are scripts, costumes, and handicrafts from all 56 of modern China's ethnic minorities.
Beijing museum of Natural History
Admission: 15 RMB; 10 RMB for students
Covers all aspects of the natural world with a gallery of Ancient Reptiles, evolutionary trend of organisms, bio-diversity, and the relationships with the environment.
Exhibition Center for Urban Planning
Ticket: 10 RMB
Surprisingly, this is a fascinating and welcoming museum. It is a four-story museum with a modern main entrance, interactive maps of Beijing, and elaborate models.
798 Art Zone
Also called "Dashanzi Art District", this is a thriving, avant-garde, artistic community. There are multiple decommissioned military factory buildings that have become the site of this art space. The buildings are located inside alleys number 2 and 4.