Beijing dates back more than 3,000 years and was a grand imperial capital from the 10th century AD until it became the capital of the new Communist nation in 1949. In the center of the city lies Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square, with the capacity to accommodate over one million people. Just opposite the square is the entrance to the Forbidden City with its acres of elegant palaces, pavilions, courtyards and gardens. Outside Beijing is the magnificent Summer Palace, a 700-acre garden and complex of buildings used by the Imperial Court to escape the summer heat of Beijing. Also outside the city lie the sacred burial grounds of the Ming emperors. Walk along the Sacred Way, a long avenue lined with massive sculptures of elephants, lions and camels leading to the tombs. In the nearby Badaling Hills is one of the most impressive and best-preserved sections of the fabled Great Wall of China, with breathtaking views of the Chinese countryside.