Wanping is a suburb in the southwestern section of Beijing. It is famous for two things, which are both connected: Marco Polo Bridge (LuGouQiao) and the museum which honors the War of Resistance Against Japan, as World War II is known in China.
Though Japan had already invaded China, swooping down from the north, the shots fired at Marco Poli Bridge on July 7, 1937, are ocnsidered the official start of the war with China. From here the Japanese proceeded to invade Beijing.
The original bridge was constructed in 1162, and was mentioned by Marco Polo when he wrote about his journey to the Middle Kingdom. The Italian explorer may have crossed the original bridge, but it washed away in 17th century floods. The bridge that replaced it is very old as you can tell by the worn, uneven center stones.
Aside from being a place where a war started, the bridge is famous for its 250 marble ballustrades, each topped with a lion in a different pose. One or two smaller lions are tucked in with the big lions, maybe hiding under a paw.
A taxi will let you off at the north end of the walled portion of the city. Walk through the stone gates; the bridge is at the other end. The war museum is to the right about a third of the way down.
The museum details the war in exhibits and vivid dioramas. Some signage is in English, but you really don’t need it to understand what’s happening. The museum is sobering and reimiscent of the Holocaust museums in Europe. There’s even statuary honoring the Flying Tigers, a group of American volunteers who fought for the Chinese during the war.
How to get there: Take a taxi! It’s possible to get there by public transportation, but it involves several changes of buses. It’s not that expensive to take a taxi from central Beijing.
The Military Museum in central Beijing has some exhibits on the Sino-Japanese war, but most of them are found at the Wanping museum.