Rings of Beijing
Beijing’s ring roads extend the city’s perimeter, connecting different landmarks and scenic areas closer together. Each ring exudes its own modern charm.
You can find nearly everything here— the imperial river, the northwest turret of The Forbidden City, Jingshan Hill, Beihai, The White Pagoda, Gold Water Bridge, Round City, Red Walls, the library and large stone lions.” As they walk side by side, a young man is elated while the lady smiles.
This is a common scene at the city centre, near the Second Ring Road. The two of them might be Beijingers taking a closer look at their own city. Or, the young man has been in Beijing for a while and is showing her around. Or they’re both new, welcoming Beijing as their potential future home.
Yet, both of them are true Beijing natives like the characters Xiangzi and Huniu from Lao She’s (1899–1966) novel Rickshawboy. The characters, almost a hundred years old today, lived as they did in the book, witnesses to Beijing’s changes. Xiangzi and Huniu probably couldn’t recognise it anymore.
In the 1920s, when Xiangzi and Huniu lived, the Central Axis known as Dahulu chuanr (“a large gourd stick”), which connected the Forbidden City with the capital's nine gates, was countryside back then. People living within the city area hardly travelled to there. But things are different in today’s Beijing. Roads extending the city’s perimeter are connecting different landmarks and scenic areas closer together. Each ring takes on its own character.
If Xiangzi were to lead Huniu over the ring roads and introduce to her the beauty of Beijing today, what would he say? “Look! Here’s the Second Ring Road. Here’s a stunning night view at Deshengmen Archery Tower while the Bell and Drum Towers manifest an ancient city. The Ming Dynasty City Wall isn’t only a segment of the city wall, but attracts Beijingers here to take photos of flowers and grass. Look again! This is the Third Ring Road where you can find Chinese roses. Driving along this road, you’re embraced by fresh flowers off to the side. Hidden along the unique Fourth Ring Road are modern city parks. The wetland along the Fifth Ring Road is enchanting, and the Olympic Forest Park, a new landmark, adds more scenic views. As for the Sixth Ring Road, the most 1 2 captivating view is none other than Beijing– 34 Hangzhou Grand Canal, a symbol of Beijing’s historic cultural heritage.” The capital's ring roads embrace both Beijingers and tourists.
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1. Deshengmen Archery Tower, the Second Ring Road
2. Qingfeng Park, the Third Ring Road
3. Ming Dynasty City Wall Relics Park, the Second Ring Road
4. Yuyuantan Park, the Third Ring Road