Beijing (formerly Peking) is the political and spiritual capital of China. With a population of 15 million, it is China's second largest city after Shanghai. Now a very modern city, Beijing is full of imperial history. For a thousand years, the emperor sat enthroned here, at the center of the Chinese universe. He lived with his empress and giant harem in the gilded cage that was the Forbidden City and made offerings on behalf of the people at the Temple of Heaven. Beijing has long been a favorite with visitors to China, thanks to its mix of traditional and modern, its great sights and proximity to the Great Wall, and its many creature comforts. In addition to the famous Tian'anmen Square and Mausoleum of Mao, there are many fascinating sacred places (Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, Muslim and more) to visit in Beijing. And thanks to its hosting of the Summer Olympics in 2008, the city's infrastructure is better than ever.