Workers Cultural Palace

Top choice park in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

Despite the prosaic name and its location at the very heart of town, this reclusive park, between Tiān’ānmén Sq and the Forbidden City, is one of Běijīng’s best-kept secrets. Few visitors divert here from their course towards the main gate of the Forbidden City, but this was the emperor’s premier place of worship and contains the Sacrificial Hall; as exquisite as any temple you'll find in Běijīng.

If you find the Forbidden City either too colossal or crowded, the temple halls here are a cheaper, more tranquil and more manageable alternative. Enter the temple area of the park through the striking Glazed Gate (琉璃门; Liúli Mén). Then, rising up to the splendid Sacrificial Hall are three flights of steps. Only gods could traverse the central plinth; the emperor was consigned to the left-hand flight. Note how the plaque above the Sacrificial Hall is inscribed in both Chinese and Manchu. Its space is now used to host temporary cultural exhibitions; be sure to look up to admire its beautifully carved interior roofing.

The northern perimeter of the park abuts the palace moat, where you can find a bench and park yourself in front of a fine view. There's also a south gate, for Tiān'ānmén Sq, and a northwest gate, for the Forbidden City, and east gate for restaurants.