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Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West Beijing (Self Guided), Beijing

Beijing’s places of worship are some of the best links to the city's history. The unique churches, Buddhist and Taoist Temples, and beautiful Muslim Mosques all tell great tales of the history of Beijing. Many of them have been partially or completely destroyed over the years either structurally by wars, or internally by the changes of political power. Visit the most beautiful places of worship in Beijing in the next self-guided tour:
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Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West Beijing Map

Guide Name: Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West Beijing
Guide Location: China » Beijing (See other walking tours in Beijing)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 Km or 4.8 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Temple of Heaven
  • Temple of Agriculture
  • Temple of Lord Guan
  • Fayuan Temple
  • Niujie Mosque
  • Baoguo Temple
Temple of Heaven

1) Temple of Heaven (must see)

The Temple of Heaven is located in central Beijing’s southeastern part. This complex consists of Taoist buildings and was constructed during Yongle Emperor’s reign between 1406 and 1420 especially for the Emperors to offer prayers. Though the practice of Chinese Worship of heaven by the emperors was existent much before Taoism, this temple is considered to be a Taoist temple.

In the sixteenth century, the Jiajing Emperor named it the Temple of Heaven. He also constructed the Temple of Earth, Sun and Moon.

Anglo-French Alliance occupied the Temple of Heaven during the Second Opium War. In 1900, this temple complex was used as the temporary command by the Eight-Nation Alliance forces during the Boxing rebellion.

During this period, the temple and its garden were seriously damaged and artifacts were stolen. The complex further fell to ruins with Qing dynasty downfall. It again came into prominence when the Republic of China President Yuan Shikai held a prayer ceremony here in 1914 in his bid to become the Emperor of China. The Temple of Heaven was first opened to the public in 1918.

Today, this temple is a popular spot where people come for Tai Chi and other activities. Its impressive architecture and landscape design attract many tourists from around the world.

Why You Should Visit:
Spectacular scenic views and famous landmark & historic site in Beijing as well as China.
It is always very interesting to see how domestic people enjoy time at weekends.

Having a guide will help with understanding what you're looking as history is what this place is mostly about.
If you'd rather avoid huge crowds of tourists, try going in the late morning or early afternoon.
As for the admission, consider purchasing the full ticket because if you are to do them individually, you will pay much more.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-8pm
Temple of Agriculture

2) Temple of Agriculture

Temple of Agriculture lies to the east of Temple of Heaven. Also known as the Xiannong Tan or Agriculture Gold Altar, this temple was constructed in 1420. During the Qing and Ming Dynasty, this temple was where sacrificial ceremonies for Goddess of Taisui, Goddess of Rivers and Goddess of Hills were held.

Originally, the architecture reflected principles of Nanjing, previous capital of China. The same altar saw sacrificial ceremonies carried out for many Goddesses in keeping with Nanjing culture. Later on, in 1531, two more altars for Goddess of Earth and Goddess of Heaven were added. It was in 1576 that the temple was renamed Xiannong Tan.

Shape of the temple resembles the Temple of Heaven with its rectangular southern part and semi-circular northern part. An area of 1.3 million square meters is covered by double layered walls.

As you enter the temple, you will find five building structure groups that include Qingcheng Gong, Shenchu, Taisui Dian, Jufu Dian and Shencang. There are a total of four altars including altar for Goddess of Earth Dizhi Tan, altar for Goddess of Heaven, Tianshen Tan, Altar of Agriculture Xiannong Tan and farming viewing platform Guangeng Tai. This unique and interesting temple is a must-visit tourist attraction in Beijing.
Temple of Lord Guan

3) Temple of Lord Guan

Temple of Lord Guan was constructed in memory of Pang Shangpeng, the local governor during Ming Dynasty’s Wanli Era in Xitang. It underwent many renovations and change of name during the Qing Dynasty and finally became the temple of Lord Guan, a Taoist God in China.

In the main hall of the temple, you will find Lord Guan’s statue. In keeping with the rich culture of Taoism, people today pray to him and burn incense sticks. The temple attracts huge crowds during important Taoist festivals. Taoists flock here to place their incenses in the vessel kept at the temple square.

Temple of Lord Guan has a vibrant, festive look during the festival. If you are lucky enough to be here during one of the grand temple fairs, you will find a variety of food stalls along the streets close to the temple. As the locals say, you can enjoy the stunning Taoist paintings, the vibrant atmosphere of the temple fair and the delicious Chinese Dim Sum snack, Shaomai.

Lord Guan is especially prayed to by the Xitang merchants on the 5th day of the 1st Lunar Calendar month. They burn incenses and pray for wealth and prosperity for the new year of business. Temple of Lord Guan is definitely a place you must visit on your trip to Beijing.
Fayuan Temple

4) Fayuan Temple

A trip to Beijing is incomplete without a visit to one of its oldest Buddhist temples Fayuan Temple. This temple is located to the Southwest of the city in Xuanwumen area. This temple was constructed in 645 by the second emperor Li Shimin in memory of the soldiers and officers who lost their lives in battles. It was originally called the Temple in Memory of the Loyal (Minzhongsi).

Between 1436 and 1449, during Ming Dynasty’s Zhengtong period, the temple was rebuilt and named Chongfusi or Temple of Exalted Happiness. It was in 1734 that the temple got its present name.

Fayuan Temple is spread over 6,700 square meters. You will find a number of interesting cultural relics that include bronze sculptures and rare gilded figures of the three Buddhas namely the Puxian or Samantabadra, Wenshu or Majusri and Piluzhena or Vairochana. You will also find Davarajas or the Four Heavenly King bronze sculptures here.

Before the Hall of Pure Karma, you will find a huge, decorated alms bowl that resembles the jade urn in Circular Wall in Beihai Park. Do not miss out Shang Shijin’s The Ode to the Pagoda at the Platform in Memory of the Loyal. This ode is written in Su Lingzhi’s calligraphy. You will also find exquisite stone pillars with Buddhist scriptures inscriptions on them, stone carvings and Ming and Qing dynasty plaques.
Niujie Mosque

5) Niujie Mosque

Niujie Mosque is a spiritual center that caters to at least 200,000 Muslims in Beijing. This is the oldest and largest mosque in the city in existence from when it was built in 995. Niujie Mosque was constructed by two Arabs and underwent many renovations, additions and alterations between 13th and 19th Centuries during the Ming, Qing and Yuan dynasties. It has been restored periodically since 1949.

A mile to the west of Temple of Heaven, you will find the Muslim Quarter. Ox Street or Niu Jie is located in this quarter. As you enter the street, you will find a variety of vendors and stalls selling shaobang or muffins, rice cakes and fried dough rings.

Niujie mosque is spread over a large area of 6000 square meters. The complex has many buildings such as the prayer hall, an observatory tower, the Bangge Lou minaret and two stone stele pavilions.

The mosque resembles a Buddhist temple due the classic Chinese style exteriors. However, as you enter the temple, there is no mistaking the traditional Arab style and ambience. The walls of the building are adorned with Arabic and Chinese inscriptions. If you are a non-Muslim, you can enjoy looking around the courtyards and exterior architecture as you will not be allowed inside the main prayer hall.
Baoguo Temple

6) Baoguo Temple

Constructed originally by the Liao Dynasty, the Baoguo Temple is located in Ming City Wall Side Park. During the Ming Dynasty, this temple was destroyed by an earthquake and was reconstructed in a larger scale. The temple is frequented by tourists and locals who flock here to admire the amazing ancient city wall scenery. Here, you will also find the largest folk Collection Market in Beijing.

Collectors flock to this Collection Market to shop for real, rare items at the Chinese Ceramics Shop, Chinese Currency Shop, Chinese Comic Collection Shop, Chinese Jade Shop, Chinese Painting Shop, Poker Collection Shop and Medal Collection Shop.

If you are interested in authentic Chinese collector’s items and artifacts, a visit to Baoguo Temple is a must. At the story book collector shops, you can also find interesting picture story books. Poker collections include a stunning range of seventeen thousand pokers from China and abroad.

Visit Baoguo Temple during weekends and you will find this place lively and vibrant with a lot of excitement in the air. Caishikou Department Store is located right opposite Baoguo Temple. This market is popular for its trade show featuring gold accessories. Interestingly, during the Qing Dynasty, this was where criminals were executed.

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