Another Chinese city similarly named is NanJing, meaning south capital.
At times in history, the capital was declared to be NanJing rather than BeiJing, according to whether the then current powerbase lay to the north or south of China.
Emperor Wu was the first to declare the site of Beijing as the capital in 1057 BC. Subsequently, the city has gone by the names of Ji, ZhongDu, Dadu, then finally Beijing when the name was chosen by the Ming Dynasty Emperor ChengZu in 1421. Before 1949, Beijing was known as Peking by the Western world. Beijing was once again the capital only when Mao ZeDong declared the Peoples Republic of China on October 1st 1949.
Beijing first served as the capital of a (more or less) united China in 1264 when Kublai Khans victorious Mongol forces set up the city of Dadu (Great Capital) to rule their new empire, from a northern location closer to the Mongol homelands. After the fall of the Mongol Yuan dynasty in 1368, the capital was moved back to Nanjing, but in 1403, the 3rd Ming emperor Zhu Di moved it to Beijing again and also gave the city its present name.
This was Beijings golden era: the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven and many other Beijing landmarks were built at this time. Beijing remained the capital into the Qing era and into the revolutionary ferment of the early 1900s, but in the chaos following the abdication of the last Emperor, Beijing was beset by fighting warlords. The Kuomintang thus moved the capital to Nanjing again in 1928, renaming Beijing as Beijing (“Northern Peace”) to emphasize that it was no longer a capital. However, the Kuomintang was eventually defeated by the Communists, who in 1949 proclaimed the Peoples Republic of China with its capital at Beijing.
Beijing is divided in 18 districts. Some central Beijing districts are Haidian District (home of Chinas Silicon Valley -Zhongguancun- and 39 universities including Beijing, Tsinghua and Renmin Universities); Chongwen District; Xuanwu District ( for traditional medicine); Chaoyang District (Art District and flea market district); Xicheng District and Dongcheng District. The last two ones are very nice areas where you can find some public parks and green areas and boutique hotels nestled in hold traditional hutongs ( like the Spring Garden Courtyard Hotel) in the former or a lot of youth hostels for international backpackers in the latter.
The 9 dragons youth hostel, the Saga youth Hostel, the Courtyard Hotel, Beijing Harbour Inn Hostel, the Beijing New Dragon Hostel, Beijing City Central youth Hostel are just some of them.