The Central Axis of Beijing: The cultural charm of balance and harmony

BEIJING, July 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by on the charm of Beijing’s Central Axis:


On Jun. 13, the city of Beijing held a livestream event to celebrate the Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, introducing the city’s Central Axis. Millions of netizens from around the world watched the livestream online to learn about the architecture and culture of Beijing.

The Central Axis is a north-south line that runs through the center of Beijing. This 7.8-kilometer axis was formed 800 years ago during the Yuan Dynasty. Along the line, the old city of Beijing was divided in two, with buildings on both sides arranged symmetrically.

The Central Axis is not an actual road, but a harmonious cluster of distinct buildings and sites. The best-known attractions along the axis include the Palace Museum, the Temple of Heaven, and the Drum and Bell Tower to name a few. Quadrangular courtyards, or Siheyuan, and the narrow streets lined with those courtyards, or hutong, are both icons of Beijing that are mostly scattered around the axis. It is more than fair to say the Central Axis is the epitome of quintessential old Beijing.

Moreover, building complexes along the central axis showcase ancient Chinese architecture and embody Chinese philosophy on the relationship between heaven and mankind. The main structures of the Temple of Heaven are circular, symbolizing the relationship of heaven and earth at the heart of ancient Chinese cosmology. The reciprocal concepts of Yin and Yang, right and left, civil and military, as well as the dichotomy of simple dialectics, can be found everywhere in the design of the Forbidden City. The symmetrical layout of the Central Axis, which echoes the golden mean in Chinese ideology, is still widely applied in urban planning and architectural design to this day.

The Central Axis’ beauty lies in its balance and harmony. In the past 800 years, the city of Beijing has gone through lots of changes, yet the Central Axis has been kept in good repair.

Some spots have been repurposed as times have changed. The once important ritual sites for the imperial family have become parks. Shichahai, once a stretch of the Grand Canal, has now emerged as a chic hangout for young people. As the city grows, the Central Axis continues to extend. The Olympic Park was added in the north and Daxing International Airport was built in the south. The Central Axis has been a cultural symbol for generations and will continue to be one long into the future.

China Mosaic

The Central Axis of Beijing: The cultural charm of balance and harmony


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