The best museums in Xicheng

West Beijing is a mine of historical interest

Xicheng is often unchartered territory for tourists or residents of expatia, but Beijing's western district has a glut of interesting museums. There are more than can be seen in a day, so here's our guide to how to get the most out of your journey to the west.

Beijing Planetarium (北京天文馆)

The abundant light pollution and smog-thick air may prevent any actual stargazing in Beijing, and indeed at this planetarium, too, but there are plenty of attractions here to entice wannabe astronomers. The majority of the action is to be found in the more modern Building B, which houses ...

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138 Xizhimenwai Dajie (Fengtai)

Beijing Stone Carvings Art Museum (北京石刻艺术博物馆)

The pleasant canal walk to reach this place is a fitting start to what’s inside – a peaceful oasis, filled with all manner of stone works, including calligraphy tablets, impressive steles, statues and grand tombstones that date back as far as the Western Jin dynasty (265-420). There are also ...

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24 Wutasicun

National Museum of Classic Books (国家典籍博物馆)

The ten exhibition halls of the Museum of Classic Books beautifully present all sorts of ancient scripts, bindings and artefacts that recall the literary history of a nation. As you might expect of a place housed inside China’s biggest collection of books, exhibits are almost entirely in ...

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33 Zhongguancun Nan Dajie (Haidian, Haidian)

Capital Museum (首都博物馆)

The Capital Museum tells the story of Beijing from when it was a few mere rice paddies right up until the founding of the People’s Republic, and tells it well. The chronological order of the artefacts on the first floor – laid out in a huge timeline – helps visitors understand the narrative of ...

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16 Fuxingmenwai Dajie (Fengtai)Free

Paleozoological Museum of China 中国古动物馆

One of the most notable paleontological museums in Asia, this place is packed to the rafters with dozens of dinosaur fossils – mostly from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Some of the larger creatures’ skeletons are reproductions but many are the real deal – including several complete ...

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142 Xizhimenwai Dajie (Fengtai)

The Geological Museum of China (中国地质博物馆)

With four floors of fossilised remains, precious stones and almost no tourists, the Geological Museum is a rare gem in itself. The 'scientific earth' room is full of interactive exhibits, including the chance to build your own earthquake-resistant tower. Meanwhile, the amethyst geodes provide ...

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15 Xisiyangrou Hutong (Fengtai)

Beijing Opera Museum (北京戏曲博物馆)

The mighty 200-year-old Huguang Guild Hall is the site of this museum, dedicated to one of the capital’s greatest cultural exports – the shrill and spectacular Peking opera. Inside the hall is the museum itself, a small but busy room that documents the history of both the building and the ...

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3 Hufang Lu (Fengtai)

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