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traveldestination Compiled and written by JOSETTA NOUSJOKI Beijing The middle of China's Middle Kingdom MORE THAN 700 years ago, Chinese emperors planned Beijing along a straight north-south axis. With the new Olympic Village at the northern end of this line, the central axis of the city has been highlighted once again. You can draw an imaginary vertical line down from the Olympic Village directly through the imperial throne at the Forbidden City and continue on to the south. Add another line where the city wall once was, the Second Ring Road is there now, and you'll end up with one of the most common Chinese characters, which is called zhong. Zhong is for centre, as in the middle of the Middle Kingdom. Travellers heading to Beijing for the Summer Olympics can follow these lines. They are all you need if you want to see the city's top sights. Visiting the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square and the National Olympic Sport Centre, you will experience the three main milestones in the history of this city. At the southern end of the axis, in Youngdingmen, stands probably the most interesting of Beijing's landmarks, the Temple of Heaven. Built in 1420 at the same time as the Forbidden City, the temple features every architectural detail built in nines ­ the number that represents the emperor. The parks surrounding the Temple are full of Beijingers doing their morning exercises and make a perfect start for your sight-seeing day. The magnificent entrance doors of the Temple of Heaven. Contemporary Chinese art at Factory 798. Left: "Chinese Dreams untitled," (2004) by Wang Jin. Right: "Green Dog Sculpture" (2006) by Zhou Chunya. Art break The Dashanzi artist's district Factory 798 brings together the most important names of China's modern art scene. Large industrial halls that used to house the armaments industry are now full of art galleries, painters' and fashion designers' workshops, clubs, restaurants, bookshops and boutiques. You can easily spend a day here, wondering from one exhibition to another. Here you'll also find voices critical of China's current state of development. Jiuxianqiao lu 4, by the airport road in northeast Beijing. www.798space.com, www.chinesecontemporary.com Five delicious Chinese food restaurants Beijing Daodong Roast Duck Restaurant One of the most traditional Beijing duck restaurants serving a large selection of homestyle staples, too. East Third Ring Road, Tuanjiehu Beikou, Building 3. Ding Ding Xiang floor, China World 2nd floor, Anli lu, Sunshine Plaza, East door. Malls at the Kerry Centre, North B1 Green T. House Outrageously decorated restaurant and gallery, serving tea-infused fusion cuisine. Gongti Xilu 6 www.green-t-house.com The Courtyard Very popular, inexpensive and stylish hotpot restaurant. Dongzhimen Wai Dongjie 14 South Beauty Chinese chic at the Green T. House. Spicy Sichuan (or Szechuan) food, gorgeous waitstaff. Gogti Beilu, Pacific Century Place 3rd Romantic restaurant for demanding diners, with fusion cuisine and a good wine selection. A great view of the Forbidden City. Donghuamen Dajie 95 www.courtyard-gallery.com 18 BLUE WINGS JUNE­AUGUST 2008 Robert Churchill

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