We hope that residents of Beijing and visitors to Beijing, as well as all those who love to see the beauties of traditional China, will enjoy and use this website. It will be updated from time to time with further images. The interactive map is designed to operate on varying platforms, and to be consulted not only from a desktop or laptop, but also from a variety of different handheld devices, so that tourists as they travel round Beijing can call up images of the vanished glories of Old Beijing as they visit each separate location where the magnificent gates and walls once stood. Residents can also see the magnificent structures which once stood in the areas where they live.
Old Beijing, one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the world, should never be forgotten. It may exist now only in our dreams, but perhaps one day some of the lost gates may be rebuilt from the photos, and from some modern architects’ plans (which we will add to the website at a later date). The gates and walls of ancient Rome, of Byzantium, of Babylon, may have been less impressive than these. Those ancient walled capitals vanished long ago. But the glories of Old Beijing lasted into the twentieth century, so that we have these surviving evocative photos of what it looked like. We hope that everyone will enjoy entering the dream and experience the marvels of the past beauties of what only a hundred years ago was probably the world’s most beautiful capital city.
This website is a project of The History of Chinese Science and Culture Foundation. (www.chinesehsc.org)
The website was planned and devised by Professor Robert Temple and designed by Jonathan Greet. The photos have been scanned in high resolution and where necessary digitally enhanced by Michael Lee, and where no individual photo credits are given, the images come from the Swedish architect, art historian, and photographer Osvald Sirén’s book The Walls and Gates of Peking, London, 1924, and when described as ‘Perckhammer’, they come from the German photographer Heinz von Perckhammer’s book Peking, Berlin, 1928. All the images are scanned from sources in the personal collection of Professor Temple.