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This week footballing legend David Beckham paid a visit to Beijing China to launch his role as global ambassador for Chinese football. The 34 year old superstar is set to spend much time in the country visiting clubs and encouraging children to take up the sport. Though his arrival in the country was marred slightly by scandals associated with the sport, he was still greeted in the manner to which he has become accustomed – hoards of screaming girls.

While the world's eyes were on the footballer as he enjoyed a kick about in front of the cameras, critics have questioned just how effective the programme will be given the distinct lack of interest in the sport throughout the country. With China's Olympic history there is a legacy of sporting excellence even if football doesn't rank highly in the nation's consciousness. A visit to Beijing's stunning Olympic park is well worth a visit to see the famous sites such as the Bird's Nest which, although not often used these days, is still an architectural wonder to behold. The other most significant Olympic site is the National Aquatic Centre otherwise known as the Water Cube.

Travellers who prefer to see a little more activity in action rather than just sporting architecture can try visiting the stunning Temple of Heaven. Located in the south of the city, this temple is the leading sacred site for the region. A visit to the grounds in the early morning will often offer the chance to spot some Kung Fu or Tai Chi practice.

Of course there is much more on offer in Beijing than sporting pursuits so plenty for Beckham fans to discover if they plan to try and track him down on one of his many visits. The city is far better known for its historic legacies and hustle and bustle than its dedication to sport. A visit can't miss a walk along the Great Wall and in Beijing travellers will find eight different sites available to access. The Forbidden City is one of the most popular highlights of Beijing. This massive palace complex was first built in the 1400s, though has been ravaged by fire and rebuilt several times since then. Most architecture that visitors can access dates back to the Qing Dynasty in the 18th century – although of course the onsite Starbucks is a more recent addition. On the complex 9,000 rooms are spread across 250 acres so ample to explore.

Those wanting a little more tranquillity can find it in China's largest royal gardens at the Summer Palace. Not far from the city there are pretty lakes and historic buildings aplenty among the 290 acres of parkland. Perhaps Beijing's most notorious sight, Tiananmen Square is hard to miss in the heart of the city and no visit would be complete without making the journey at sunrise to watch the raising of the flag.

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