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The build up to the Olympics
Updated: 2008-08-05 12:53

In the build up to the Olympics city officials hired some of the worlds leading architects, and if you're looking for a conversation here in Beijing just mention some of the new buildings that have sprung up.

First up and for many, the first entrance to the middle kingdom is the new terminal three at Beijing Capital International Airport. On entering T3 one is met by a reddish orange glow shining down from the sunlit ceiling, always a lucky color in Chinese culture. Passengers here are lucky too, with the amount of space and room - T3 is the world's biggest passenger terminal and in this the Olympic year is expected to handle more than 60 million passengers.

And out the front in time for the games a new rail link has opened running direct to downtown Dongzhimen

Next up, travelling along the newly opened subway line 10, get off at Jintaixizhao Station, in Beijing's Chaoyang Central Business District and the soon to be complete CCTV tower. Coming in at over 230-metres high once finished, it'll become a workplace for more than 10,000 people.

From the CCTV tower we now cut across town into the heart of old Beijing into the soul of the city's ancient past and the arts - paying a visit to the national theatre tucked neatly next to Tiananmen Square. This luminescent bubble serves as an opera house seating up to 6,500 people. Up close the titanium and glass dome floats like a lily pad on a lake blending the organic with the futuristic.

The egg-shaped national theatre. [File Photo]

Let's leave the arts and travel north to the centre of the city's sports where one arrives at The National Aquatic Centre, the location for the swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming Olympic events. Structured like a soap bubble it glows a translucent blue at night.

And finally our tour finishes arriving at what has been referred to as the defining landmark, not just of the Olympics, but of the new China -- the National Stadium, or the Birds' Nest.

Perhaps no insight into contemporary Beijing would be complete without looking at the Water Cube and Bird's Nest. These two locations add to the city in a way that is just as fascinating as any visit to the Great Wall.

And perhaps, years later, visitors to the city will still be coming here and commenting on the legacy that was left behind in the build up to the Olympics.