Dongcheng, which literally translates as “east city district”, covers the eastern half of Beijing’s Old city centre. The district borders Chaoyang district to the north and east, Fengtai district to the south, and Xicheng district to the west. The spirit of old Beijing is very much alive in the Dongcheng district and the timeless portrait of Mao that sits upon the wall of Tiananmen gate is testimony to this fact. Dongcheng holds more than a quarter of Beijing’s major historical and cultural attractions within its borders. Sites such as the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven – both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites – offer a peak at the imperial majesty that once governed this land. The famous Tiananmen Square is also situated within the district, along with other popular tourist destinations such as the hutongs of Wangfujing and Nanluogoxiang.
Due to its historical/cultural make-up, that attracts millions of tourists a year, the majority of Dongcheng’s economy arises from the service sector (often over three-quarters). Along with the historic sites Dongcheng also homes some of Beijing’s premier hotels and shopping areas, such as Oriental Plaza – once Asia’s largest shopping centre, and Wangfujing pedestrian mall – these are major pulls for domestic tourists. While the majority of Beijing’s corporate and political buildings are found in the Chaoyang district and Xicheng district respectively, Dongcheng does contain some major business headquarters and political offices. Given this amalgamation of commercial and cultural characteristics the district is considered to be one of Beijing’s four key zones.
Dongcheng district contains both the nation’s most important railway and transfer hub – Beijing station, and the city’s most vital transfer station – Dongzhimen Transport hub. It is also adjacent, to the south, to the New Beijing South Railway Station which is the Asia's largest railway station. Dongcheng is served by metro lines 1, 2, 5 and 13, operated by Beijing Subway and is also a stop along the Airport line.