Běihǎi Park

sights / Parks & gardens

Běihǎi Park information

Location
Běijīng , China
Telephone
+86 10 6403 1102
Getting there
Subway: Line 6 to Beihai North or Nanluogu Xiang; or Line 4 to Xisi
More information
www.beihaipark.com.cn/en
Prices
admission high/low season ¥10/5, through ticket high/low season ¥20/15, audio guide ¥60
Opening hours
6am-9pm, sights to 5pm
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Běihǎi Park, northwest of the Forbidden City, is largely occupied by the North Sea (běihǎi), a huge lake fringed by willows that freezes in winter and blooms with lotuses in summer. Old folk dance together outside temple halls and come twilight, young couples cuddle on benches. It’s a restful place to stroll around, rent a rowing boat in summer and watch calligraphers practising characters on paving slabs with fat brushes and water.

Topping Jade Islet (琼岛; Qióngdǎo) on the lake, the 36m-high Tibetan-style White Dagoba was built in 1651 for a visit by the Dalai Lama, and was rebuilt in 1741. Climb up to the dagoba via the Yǒng’ān Temple (永安寺; Yǒng’ān Sì).

The site is associated with Kublai Khan’s palace, Běijīng’s navel before the arrival of the Forbidden City. All that survives of the Khan’s court is a large jar made of green jade in the Round City , near the southern entrance. Also within the Round City is the Chengguang Hall (Chéngguāng Diàn), where a white jade statue of Sakyamuni from Myanmar (Burma) can be found, its arm wounded by the allied forces that swarmed through Běijīng in 1900 to quash the Boxer Rebellion.

Located on the lake’s northern shore, Xītiān Fánjìng is one of the most interesting temples in Běijīng, though it was closed for major renovations in 2016 with ongoing works. The first hall, the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, takes you past Mílèfó, Weituo and the four Heavenly Kings. The nearby Nine Dragon Screen , a 5m-high and 27m-long spirit wall, is a glimmering stretch of coloured glazed tiles depicting coiling dragons, similar to its counterpart in the Forbidden City. West, along the shore, is the unique Xiaoxitian , the largest square pavilion-style palace in China. Its centrepiece features a rather garish diorama of Mt Sumeru with Bodhisattva seated at its peak along with arhats on rocky outcrops.

Attached to the North Sea, the South (Nánhǎi) and Middle (Zhōnghǎi) Seas to the south lend their name to Zhōngnánhǎi (literally ‘Middle and South Seas’), the heavily-guarded compound less than a mile south of the park where the Chinese Communist Party’s top leadership live.