Visitors to Beijing during this Olympic year will surely want to visit Tian'anmen Square and the Forbidden City. However, few people will know that wedged between these two tourist hot spots is an exquisitely landscaped new public garden which doesn't seem to appear in the guidebooks.
ChangPu River Park was originally a support centre for the Imperial City with areas for growing flowers, raising doves and providing other necessities used in the everyday life of the Emperors.
In the 1960s, the 'Outer Golden River' which ran through the plot was filled in and warehouses were constructed to store decorations and adornments for regular Tian'anmen Square totalitarian propaganda pageants and military parades. Fortunately, the ancient trees were spared and remain carefully tended to this day.
In 2001, with the awarding of the 2008 Olympic Games to Beijing and an increasing concern for the preservation of Beijings environment and important historical features, the Municipal Government's decision to bring the area dramatically back to life resulted in the creation of the current parkland (only 510m in length) which opened in 2003.
Surrounded by high red walls with traditional pavilions, bridges, court architecture and plenty of quiet places to relax and admire the clean water, rock pools, goldfish, sculptures and immaculate garden design, this is the perfect sanctuary from the noise and commercialism of life outside.
The park runs between the N.W. corner of the Forbidden City/Palace Museum (next to the Public Toilets and Souvenier Centre) towards Wangfujing and the Beijing Raffles Hotel.
The best way to keep up with many events in the capital of China is to sign up for the weekly newsletter of the expatriate magazine, The Beijinger. This will keep you informed of the latest gigs, shows,
club news, restaurants, etc. And of course, pick up this expat magazine when you are in town. Most foreign
related hangouts stock it and it is free. Also available free of charge is Time Out Beijing.
My favourite place to visit for alternative music is D22 in the university district. If you want to sample the rock bands of the city, it is one of the best places to visit.
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