Walking Tour: Xicheng District, Beijing (Self Guided), Beijing

Xicheng District includes the largest part of the old city. In this part of Beijing, you will find fascinating Chinese architecture, the oldest standing Catholic Church and beautiful parks. Take the following tour to discover the most popular and prominent attractions in Xicheng District of Beijing.
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Walking Tour: Xicheng District, Beijing Map

Guide Name: Walking Tour: Xicheng District, Beijing
Guide Location: China » Beijing (See other walking tours in Beijing)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.4 km
Author: nataly
1
White Cloud Temple

1) White Cloud Temple

White Cloud Temple was constructed in the 8th century to house the statue of Lao Tzu. This temple was originally known as the Tian Chang Temple. It was burnt down in 1202 but the statue was miraculously saved.

Reconstruction of the temple took place in 1224 under the order of Genghis Khan. The temple was then named the White Cloud Temple. Now it is one of the largest and oldest Taoist temples in China.

Taoist temples in China are not called temples but Guan which means observe. This is based on the Taoist belief that direct perception of nature and not theological or scholastic studies leads to understanding. Taoists visit this temple especially on full moon day.

You can find traditional image details including the two hidden monkeys exquisitely depicted on the front arches. Visitors find and touch the hidden monkeys as they believe that it is lucky to do so. At the busiest hours, you will find a long line of people waiting to touch the hidden monkeys.

Do not miss out the bridge that features the bells and the oversized Chinese coins. Purchase fake coins and throw them at the bells. If you hit the bell with a coin, you are considered to be lucky. White Cloud Temple is a must visit destination on your trip to Beijing.
2
Capital Museum

2) Capital Museum (must see)

Capital Art Museum is located on Chang’an Street western extension from where it commenced operation in the year 2005. This museum is known for its advanced technology, abundant exhibits and magnificent architecture. This large contemporary museum is a major landmark in Beijing frequented by thousands of tourists every year.

Harmoniously integrating past and present, this museum displays the rich cultural heritage of the country through art. Capital Art Museum is also an example of contemporary and classical architectural integration with its massive roof and national characteristics.

The roof especially is a standing example of overhang design of traditional Chinese architectural style. The ancient China city wall is depicted by the long stone curtain wall and ancient dias construction style is reflected in the gradient of the square. In front of the hall’s north gate, you can find Danbi, a stone carved with images such as Phoenix and Dragon.

You will enter the hall through the decorative archway that reflects the Ming Dynasty style. You will certainly be impressed with the generous usage of timbers, bronze and stone in the interior of the museum.

You can find unearthed historical heritages and past year collections on display. Regular and temporary exhibitions are held here featuring fine contemporary and traditional artistic collections.

Why You Should Visit:
The permanent exhibitions include highlights such as the history of Beijing, old folk customs, Peking opera, bronze and porcelains... but there are also various changing exhibitions. All are fascinating, nicely displayed and not overwhelming. A great option for 2-3 hours.

Tip:
Free entry, but to be safe you do have to make an online reservation and bring your passport to get in.
Don't forget to bring your own food and drinks with you if planning to stay longer (some people eat in the seated corridors).

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-4pm
3
Temple of Moon

3) Temple of Moon

Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties used to worship the constellation deities, especially the God of Moon on Autumn Equinox Day at the royal Temple of Moon. It was in 1955 that this temple was opened to the public as a leisure park.

Temple of Moon park is divided into two namely the south and north parks. At the north park, you can find several red brick ancient buildings with green roofs. Southern part of the park features rockeries, water, winding paths and lakes.

Moon altar is situated at the north park where you can also find other buildings such as Bell Tower, four halls, west and north gates and the four-quadrilateral pavilion. South Park is popular for its abundant natural beauty that includes bowery roads, artificial mountains and plenty of water.

This park is famous for the bonsai exhibition held throughout the year. You will find the Moon Goddess Chang’e sculpture at the pool where a waterfall drops. Beijing Children’s Hospital is located 250 meters from Nanlishi Road. This road is located to the south of the Temple of Moon.

Other popular attractions close to the Temple of Moon include the Baita Temple, Tianwang Hall, Dajue Hall, Qifo Hall, White Pagoda, Temple of Past Emperors and Guangii Temple.
4
Miaoying Temple

4) Miaoying Temple

Also known as the White Dagoba Temple, Miaoying Si is located in Beijing Municipality’s West District. The name White Dagoba originates from the spectacular and majestic white Dagoba standing in the temple. This is one of the two Dagoba in Beijing the other one located in Beihai Park.

The main feature of the Miaoying Temple is the White Dagoba. There are four halls that contain historically important artefacts such as classical Buddhist scriptures, lifelike Buddhist statues, flowery cassocks, five Buddha’s crowns, fabrics and a lot of other valuables.

Visitors are impressed by the cm high golden Dagoba Longevity Statue studded with 40 rubies. Another important attraction here is the Kwan-Yin Bodhisattva Statue made in bronze. This statue has thousand eyes and hands. Dagoba temple is where a lot of Buddhist scriptures were translated.

During the Yuan Dynasty, this was the imperial temple. Three days ahead of the actual ritual, all ceremonies used to be rehearsed at this temple. During the Qing Dynasty, many temple fairs were held here.

To the north of the temple is the White Dagoba designed by Anigo, the famous Nepalese architect. The Dagoba is a standing example of friendship between China and Nepal that existed during Yuan Dynasty. Today, it is protected by the Chinese State Department. Miaoying Temple and the White Dagoba are sure to leave you speechless and spell bound.
5
Guangji Temple

5) Guangji Temple

Guangji Temple is a popular tourist spot in China. Located in Xicheng District’s Inner Fuchengmen Street, this Buddhist temple today is the Chinese Buddhism Association headquarters. All major national Buddhist activities are conducted here.

Guangji Temple was constructed during the Jin Dynasty between 1115 and 1234. Successive dynasties made certain additions to it and the present version of the temple was completed between 1368 and 1644 during the Ming Dynasty.

Constructed over an area of 5,766 acres, the temple stands in all its glory. Some of the major structures here include the main gate, Mahavira Hall, Heavenly King Hall, Sutra Hall and the Buddhisattva or Yuantong Hall.

Connecting walls joint the three arched doors at the main gate. You will find all the doors decorated with colored glazed eaves. As you pass through the gate, you will come across the imposing and majestic Bell Tower and Drum Tower.

The Heavenly King Hall features Maitreya Buddha’s bronze statue. Maitreya Buddha in a seated position is guarded by four Heavenly Kings. You will find the Wheel of Dharma on the hall roof. This wheel signifies Buddha’s infinite power.

Mahavira Hall is located in the second courtyard. Do not miss out the bronze vessel in front of the hall made in 1793 during Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Qianlong’s regime. This 2 meter high vessel features Buddhism’s eight treasures namely the wheel, umbrella, spiral shell, vase, flower, canopy, knot and fish.

Yuangtong Hall is the third courtyard where you will find Buddhisattva’s residence. At the Sutra Hall, the fourth courtyard, you can find a rich collection of treasures and sutras. Here again, do not miss the precious sutras written in blood from the Ming and Song dynasties.
6
Xishiku Cathedral

6) Xishiku Cathedral

One of the most ornate and grand churches in China, the Xishiku Cathedral is located in the Xicheng District. This Catholic Church affiliated to the Patriotic Catholic Church of China and is home to the Beijing Cardinal Bishop Office.

The Jesuits built this church in 1703 on a land near Zhongnanhai given to them by Qing Dynasty Emperor Kangzi. He gifted the Jesuits with the land in gratitude for treating and curing him of a serious illness. The plaque and calligraphic couplets you find on the door of the cathedral was written by the Emperor.

Emperor Guangxu wished to create a park at Zhongnanhai and moved the cathedral in 1887 to its present location. The park area went on to function as a residence of popular communists such as Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping and Chairman Mao and is today the Chinese Communist Party headquarters.

Today the Xishiku Cathedral stands in all its glory with a rich marble façade. It was redesigned in Gothic style by Bishop Pierre Favier. When the cathedral was besieged by 10,000 boxers during the 1900 Boxer Uprising, Bishop Favier played a major role in successfully defending the church and over 3000 converts. Enjoy the grandeur and soak in the intrinsic essence of this popular Cathedral on your trip to Beijing.
7
Prince Gong's Palace

7) Prince Gong's Palace (must see)

Prince Gong's Palace was constructed during the Qing Dynasty rule between 1644 and 1911. This is a stately mansion carefully preserved and also the largest mansion in Beijing, located to the north of Shichahai at Qianhai Xijie.

Prince Gong's Palace is especially known for its cultural connotations and grand architecture. It exudes an aesthetic value and is a treasure house for those who wish to study the bygone feudal society’s elite class lifestyle.

This mansion was originally the residence of an intelligent and handsome imperial guard Heshen’s residence. It was remodeled as the palace in 1777 and stands in all its glory till today. Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty especially noticed this bright 25-year-old guard and swiftly promoted him to higher positions. In charge of civil servant appointments and finance control, Heshen rapidly became wealthy.

After the demise of the aging king, his son Emperor Jiaquing who ruled between 1796 and 1820 executed Heshen for his corrupt activities and confiscated his property. In 1799, the mansion was passed on to Emperor Jiaqiing’s successor Prince Qing and then on to Emperor Xianfeng. Prince Gong received ownership of the mansion which was eventually named after him.

The traditional siheyuan courtyards, the large gardens with scenic spots, the living quarters and the 40 rooms in this mansion are definitely worth a visit on your trip to Beijing.

Why You Should Visit:
Gives a good impression of the life of the very high-ranking in the Chinese empire and seems livable, unlike the austere magnificence of the Forbidden City.
The garden would seem to be an important survival of a traditional Chinese urban garden; it's much larger than many others you will see in Beijing.
Many of the buildings have exhibitions unrelated to the original purpose, but nevertheless interesting.

Tip:
Go early to avoid the army of tour groups and try renting the English/foreign language audio guide at the entrance, if needed.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 7:30am-4:30pm
8
Guo Moruo Memorial Hall

8) Guo Moruo Memorial Hall

Guo Moruo Memorial Hall was originally a courtyard where Guo Moruo, a highly talented dramatist, poet, archaeologist, historian and palaeographer lived for 15 years from November 1963 till his death.

This courtyard was used by the Qing Dynasty formerly as a prince’s garden between 1644 and 1911. In 1982, the courtyard was brought under state protection after being declared as an important cultural relic. In 1988, on Guo Moruo’s birthday, it was opened to the public and was named the Guo Moruo Memorial Hall.

Visit this hall and walk around the courtyard where Guo wrote many of his works including poems, monographs and theses. You will also find many of his books, manuscripts and documents preserved there.

Guo and his wife developed a beautiful garden here which still continues to flourish. You will find the gingko tree to the northern end of the lawn. According to Guo, gingko tree is a living monument to Chinese culture.

At the center of the lawn is a bronze statue of Guo. This statue was sculpted on his tenth death anniversary by a Central Academy of Fine Arts professor and a popular sculptor Situ Zhaoguang. Guo Moruo Memorial Hall is a popular tourist attraction you must not miss on your trip to Beijing.

Walking Tours in Beijing, China

Create Your Own Walk in Beijing

Create Your Own Walk in Beijing

Creating your own self-guided walk in Beijing is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Antiques Hunting Tour

Antiques Hunting Tour

While enjoying the city, make sure to check out our amazing tour, comprised of handpicked antique markets, filled with original, rare and beautiful items. Discover both the work of local craftsmen and articles that traveled from other countries and cultures.

Tour Duration: 1 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 km
Souvenir Shopping Guide

Souvenir Shopping Guide

It would be a pity to leave Beijing without having explored its specialty shops and bringing home something truly original. We've compiled a list of gifts and souvenirs, which are unique to Beijing, that a visitor might like to purchase to reflect their visit.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.8 km
Walking Tour: Shopping in Downtown Beijing

Walking Tour: Shopping in Downtown Beijing

The downtown section of Beijing is famous for its shopping areas. You will be impressed with the diverse selection of stores on each street, ranging from flea markets to specialty shops offering authentic Chinese products. Take the following tour to discover the most popular and prominent shopping spots in Beijing:

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.4 km
Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West Beijing

Self-guided Tour: Places of Worship, South-West 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...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.7 km
Shopping in North Beijing

Shopping in North Beijing

Northern Beijing is home to the famous historic Shichahai area. This picturesque area between Forbidden City and Olympic Park consists of three lakes, the Confucius and Lama Temples and is a great illustration of a traditional Chinese district. Check out the most popular shopping places in North Beijing in the next self-guided tour.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 km
Walking Tour: Chaoyang District

Walking Tour: Chaoyang District

Chaoyang District is one of the largest, most modern Districts of Beijing. Here you will find the Central Business District and headquarters of many international organizations, as well as many famous market streets including Silk Street and Sanlitun Bar Street. Take the following tour to discover the fascinating Chaoyang District:

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.4 km

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