Prior to this piece, I wrote an article with the name ‘A Confucian Education’ which mentioned Beijing’s ancient Imperial Academy. Shifting away from this, the city is home to the country’s top universities which are renowned for their academic excellence. This is none more true than that of China’s first modern national university; namely, Peking University. Students, their families and indeed anybody can visit the university’s campus; so be sure to make room for this when you travel to Beijing. The university has its own subway station, (Peking University), which is perfect for student dashing to class albeit visitors coming from their respective Beijing hotels.  The creative comic sketches along the subway walls certainly send a fond reminder that you are entering university grounds.

Originally called Imperial University of Peking, the university was founded in 1898 to substitute the Imperial Academy. Since then, the university has gone from strength to strength and ranks especially highly in fields such as science and has had many notable figures pass through its gates such as Mao Zedong. To absorb some of the university’s culture, it would be recommended that you visit some of Peking’s fine exhibitions in its many museums. The Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art and Archaeology, for one, presents some fascinating artifacts from excavations.

To really appreciate what the Peking campus has to offer, take some time to look at some of its magnificent architecture. One good place to enter the campus, therefore, is from the West Gate as here you will be able to experience the grandeur of the university passing through its old crimson royal gates between two might stone lions. Another attraction which (literally) cannot be missed is the Boya Pagoda which towers over Weiming Lake. The pagoda was once used as a water tower but now is simply iconic in the university’s landscape. Further on, is Yannan Garden which was built in 1998 to celebrate Peking’s centenary. This is undoubtedly a must-see section of the campus and complements to prestigious nature of its surroundings.

It is always wonderful to imagine that these universities were the very places that great thinkers also once strolled. Perhaps the very atmosphere will also inspire you in conjuring monumental ideas when wandering around the serene Weiming Lake, for instance. In any case, the campus grounds are peaceful whilst also simultaneously full of life. People can be seen mulling around the lake, families educating their children what a squirrel is (despite it being a chipmunk), whilst others cycle in the most leisurely of fashions. Indeed, if you like the sound of Beijing tours, then why not try a cycle tour to explore one of the quickest and most enjoyable way to get around the campus.

 

 

 

Jack Li
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