Hebei province, in which Baoding is located, is home to a high proportion of Chinese Catholics; Baoding likewise reflects this demographic trend. Several Catholic leaders from Baoding have faced arrest since the 1990s.
Perhaps the best known item to supposedly originate in Baoding are Baoding Balls.
Anxin County is home to the Quantou Village Music Association (圈头村音乐会), a well known traditional music group performing on guan (oboes), sheng (mouth organs), and percussion. The village of Quantou is located on an island in Lake Baiyangdian.
Baoding is a city with a history dating back to the Western Han Dynasty. It was destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century, but after the Mongols established the Yuan Dynasty, it was rebuilt. It acquired the name "Baoding" during the Yuan dynasty — the name is roughly interpreted as "protecting the capital", referring to the city's proximity to Beijing. Baoding served for many years as the capital of Zhili, and was a significant centre of culture in the Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty. It continued to serve as provincial capital when Zhili was renamed Hebei. During World War II, the city was the site of a headquarters for Japanese occupation forces. In 1958, the role of provincial capital was assuemed by Tianjin, which had lost its status as a province-level municipality, but when Tianjin was elevated again in 1966, Baoding regained its position. In 1970, however, the rapidly growing city of Shijiazhuang became capital instead.
Baoding is situated on flat plains, to the east of the Taihang Mountains. It is surrounded by farmland. The city is roughly rectangular in shape, and is divided by the north-south Jingguang Railway. Baoding Railway Station marks the geographic centre of the city. The older part of Baoding is on the east side of the railway, and is administratively divided into the North City and South City. On the west side of the railway is the New City, an area of more recent development.
The city's streets follow a rough grid pattern, although this is less obvious in the older part of the city. The traditional main street of old Baoding is Yuhua Road, running from the city's centre to its eastern edge — most of Baoding's historic buildings are located in this area, along with some of its larger shopping centres. Other major streets include Dongfeng Road and Changyang Avenue. There is a ring road around the city.
Baoding is home to Hebei University, among others.
Baoding contains a number of notable historic sites. In the city proper, there can be found a historic provincial governor's mansion and an ancient lotus garden. In the hills to the northwest of the city, near the suburb of Mancheng, there are the Mancheng Han Tombs, where prince Liu Sheng and his wife Dou Wan were buried.
The greater Baoding administrative area has 15 designated state-level cultural relics:
Baoding's internal public transport system consists of buses (costing one yuan for any trip within the urban area). Taxis are also common.