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Ancient Capitall City: Beijing City

Ancient Capitall City: Beijing City

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Beijing city during the Ming Dynasty was strictly laid out according to traditional social norms and etiquette. Taimiao (Imperial ancestral Temple), was built to the left of the Imperial Palace while the Shejitan (Altar of the Earth and Harvests), was located on the right side. Apart from these temples, other temple altars such as Tiantan (Temple of Heaven), Ditan (Temple of Earth), Ritan (Temple of Sun), and Yuetan (Temple of Moon) were also constructed outside the inner city, in the directions of south, north east and west respectively. The road network and water system devised by Dadu city of the Yuan Dynasty were retained. The major road arteries of the inner city were the two main streets which ran parallel to the central axis, and connected all the other streets together. As the Imperial Palace, Shisha Lake and Xiyuan Park disrupted the connection between the eastern and western parts of Beijing city, traveling in the east-west direction and vice versa was rather inconvenient. The thoroughfares generally had a width of about 6 or 7 meters. The distance between these streets in turn varied between 50 to 60 meters. This area was where the Hutongs of Beijing city were located.
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The rulers of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) retained the basic scale and layout of Beijing city inherited form the Ming Dynasty. As a large number of the palaces had ordered the reconstruction of most of the palaces during his feign. At the same time, changes to residential areas were made, whereby civilians living within the inner city were relocated to the outer city. The inner city thus strictly became the area where the mansions of royal clansmen and the barracks of the Eight Banner soldiers were located. This strategic decision was to lead to the further development of the outer city, where many important commercial areas flourished. Furthermore, some Lama temples were also constructed to promote racial harmony amongst the city’s various ethnic groups, such as the Mongols and the Tibetans. The Qing Emperors of Beijing city focused on the construction of imperial villas and gardens located on the northwest outskirts of the city. During the more than 130 years’ reign of the Emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong, spanning three generations, they had built a couple of imperial gardens
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The Beijing city of Ming-Qing period had almost been preserved in whole, up till now. Although most of the ancient city walls of the modern Beijing city had been demolished, the city gates and their names have been retained.
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The demolition of the old gates and walls of the city have brought about gradual changes to the old grid pattern of roads. Following the rapid development of Beijing after the 1980s, the newly-built main road arteries of Beijing had disrupted the layout of the age-old grid pattern of streets. Today, only a certain number of valuable and well-preserved architecture including home dwellings, palaces and temples located in the city center are retained as well.

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