Some 485 granite and marble lions—each slightly different—stand guard along Beijing’s Marco Polo Bridge (Lugou Qiao), built in 1192 and the oldest in the Chinese capital. Italian explorer Marco Polo supposedly wrote about the bridge, with its 11 arches spanning the Yongding River southwest of central Beijing.
The nationally famous bridge, also known as Lugou Bridge, has featured in countless movie scenes filmed in Beijing, yet it remains a bit off-the-beaten path for foreign tourists. Guided tours to the bridge might also include points of interest, such as the Peking Man Site, where the first complete Peking Man skull was discovered in 1929, or the Stone Flower Cave with its colorfully illuminated rock formations.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Lugou Bridge is a must-visit for history buffs and photographers.
- Beijing tours that include the bridge typically last about eight hours.
- Don’t forget to bring sun protection if you plan to spend some time on the bridge, as you’ll find little shade.
How to Get There
While outside Beijing’s city center, the bridge is still easily accessible by public transportation. Take one of several public buses to Lugou Xinqiao Station or ride the Beijing Subway (Line 14) to Dawayao Station and catch Bus 339 to Lugou Xinqiao Station.
When to Get There
This scenic spot is open for visitors throughout the year, with reduced hours during the winter months (November to March). While there’s no bad time to visit, you’ll capture the best photos of the curving arches and stone lions right around sunset.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident
On July 7, 1937, the stone bridge witnessed one of the most important moments in modern Chinese history when fighting broke out between Japanese troops and the Chinese army, setting off the eight-year Sino-Japanese War. This war would continue until Japan finally surrendered in 1945 at the end of World War II.