Travel, Teach, Live in China
China is not only one of the largest countries in the world, but it is also one of the oldest, with a documented history that dates to approximately 2000 B.C. Spanning an area that crosses four different time zones, it offers some of the most well-known historic monuments in the world, including the Great Wall of China. In addition to this former defensive structure, other monuments range from an emperor's spiritual devotion to a remembrance of the Chinese philosopher Confucius.
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China (greatwall-of-china.com) is one of the largest man-made structures in the world. Originally built for defensive purposes beginning in 221 B.C. during the Chin Dynasty, it expanded sporadically to cover more than 5,500 miles across a wide array of terrain by the time construction ended in the 1500s. Its walls are an average of 25 feet in height, 20 feet in width, and 40-foot watch-towers are built every 200 yards. Today, many portions of the wall are unrecognizable due to erosion and human activity, but the most well-known portion is located within a three-hour drive from the city of Beijing.
Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven (travelchinaguide.com) is a complex of historic buildings located in central Beijing. Built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty as a sacrifice to heaven for good fortune on earth, it consists of three main groups enclosed within a long wall that covers an area of approximately one square mile. The Temple's main attractions include the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (the temple's centerpiece), the white-marble Circular Mound Altar, with its 12 inner posts that represent the months of the year, and the Imperial Vault of Heaven, which is surrounded by the 633-foot Echo Wall. This wall is known for its special resonance where whispers can be heard over far distances. The temple is open daily to the public throughout the year.
The Mogao Grottoes, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, (travelchinaguide.com) are one of the three most well-known grottoes in China. Located in the Gansu Province near the city of Dunhuang, the 750 caves contain some of the best-preserved early Buddhist artwork, which dates to 366 A.D. They include 2,100 statues that range in size from .79 inches to 113 feet in height as well as brightly colored murals that cover an area of 15.5 miles. The site is open daily to the public with operating hours that vary seasonally.
Temple of Confucius
The Temple of Confucius (china-tour.cn) is a historic temple devoted to the memory of the famous Chinese philosopher. Located in the center of Qufu City in the Shandong Province, it was built in 478 B.C. one year after the death of Confucius. The site covers an area of approximately 54 acres and includes 466 halls and named pavilions with the Dacheng Palace as its main structure. The rest of the complex consists of large bell towers, decorative dragon-carved columns, and the Lu Wall, which is a hollow wall once used by descendants of Confucius to hide his books of teachings from the emperor's army.