Miàoyīng Temple White Dagoba

Buddhist Temple in Beihai Park & Xicheng North

Originally built in 1271, the serene Miàoyīng Temple slumbers beneath its huge, distinctive, chalk-white Yuan dynasty pagoda, which towers over the surrounding hútòng. It was, when it was built, the tallest structure in Dàdū (the Yuan dynasty name for Běijīng), and even today it is the tallest Tibetan-style pagoda in China. The highlights of a visit here include the diverse collection of Buddhist statuary.

The main building is the Hall of the Great Enlightened One (大觉宝殿; Dàjué Bǎodiàn), which is glittered splendidly with hundreds of Tibetan Buddhist effigies and a superb coloured patterned roof. The Hall of the Seven Buddhas features golden-painted wooden statues of the Buddhas of the Three Realms which date from the 13th century and also has exquisite detailing in the roof with dragon carvings. At the time of research, the pagoda itself was closed for renovations.

After you finish here, exit the temple and wander the tangle of local alleyways for street-market action and earthy shades of hútòng life.