Lonely Planet review
Known previously as Zhēnjué Temple (真觉寺; Zhēnjué Sì), the distinctive Indian-styled Wǔtǎ Temple (Five Pagoda Temple) is a hugely rewarding place to visit, not only because of its unusual architectural style, but also because of the magnificent collection of stone carvings found within its grounds. The temple is topped by its five attractive namesake pagodas. The exterior of the main hall is decorated with dorje , hundreds of images of Buddha and legions of beasts, amid traces of red pigment. During Ming times, the temple ranged to at least six halls, all later tiled in yellow during Qing times; the terrace where the Big Treasure Hall once stood can still be seen. The temple, dating from 1473, is highly unusual for Běijīng, and well worth a visit in itself, but the highlight here is the extraordinary collection of stone carvings, some housed carefully in buildings at the back of the complex but many just scattered around the temple grounds. Pieces you might stumble across include gravestones, animal statues, carved human figures, stone stele and some enormous bìxì (mythical tortoiselike dragons often seen in Confucian temples). The pieces were all recovered from various places in Běijīng and put here for their protection during the latter end of the last century. Most are Qing and Ming dynasty, but there are a number of Yuan, Tang, Jin and even Eastern Han dynasty pieces, some of which are almost 2000 years old. Many, although not all, have explanatory captions in English; those captioned in Chinese only do at least have the date of origin written in numerals.
As with Wànshòu Temple, on Wednesdays the first 200 visitors get in for free here.
Note, you can enter the north gate of Běijīng Zoo from here. Cross the canal over the decorative arched bridge.