Getty Images/Best View Stock RF

CCTV Headquarters


Known locally as Da Kucha (大裤衩, Big Pants), the 234m-tall CCTV Tower is an architectural fantasy that appears to defy gravity. Designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, the building has become an icon of the Beijing skyline since being completed in 2008 in time for the Olympics.

There's no access to the site, but you can take great photos from Rosewood Beijing and the terrace bars of China World Mall, such as Migas Mercado.

In February 2008, midway through CCTV's own Chinese New Year celebrations, a stray firework set alight the attached Television Cultural Center tower. Despite burning for five hours with spectacular ferocity, none of this was shown on TV, with CCTV famously censoring its reporting of the huge conflagration (Beijing netizens dryly noted how CCTV created one of the year’s biggest stories only to not cover it). The as-yet-unopened Beijing Mandarin Oriental, a visitor’s centre and theatre were destroyed in the blaze, but Big Pants itself escaped un-singed.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Beijing attractions

1. Ritan Park

1.08 MILES

Landscaped like an ornamental Chinese garden, Ritan Park provides peaceful respite for the embassy district's diplomats and worker bees. The historical…

2. Dongyue Temple

1.19 MILES

Dedicated to the Eastern Peak (Tài Shān) of China’s five Taoist mountains, this morbid Taoist shrine is an unsettling, albeit entertaining, place of…

3. Ancient Observatory

1.65 MILES

Astronomers have been studying the mysteries of the cosmos here since 1442. Crowning the 18m-high brick tower – an earlier version of which would have…

4. Galaxy Soho

1.69 MILES

After the CCTV Tower and the Bird's Nest Stadium, Beijing's Galaxy Soho trumpeted itself as the capital's next modern architectural landmark when it…

5. Zhihua Temple


Lost in a tumbledown hutong neighbourhood, this Buddhist temple is one of Beijing's best-preserved Ming dynasty structures. It was built in 1444 to honour…

6. Southeast Corner Watchtower


This immense fortress, part of the Ming City Wall Ruins Park, guarded the southeast corner of Beijing's city walls. Originally built in 1439 but repaired…

7. Chaoyang Park

1.89 MILES

Beijing's largest park has plenty for kids, from fairground rides to pedal boats and swimming, and even a makeshift ski slope in winter.

8. Imperial Granaries

2.05 MILES

Several teetering old storehouses here once held grain and rice for the imperial family. Today they've been integrated into a fairly lacklustre enclave of…