Galaxy Soho

Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

After the CCTV Tower and the Bird's Nest Stadium, Beijing's Galaxy Soho trumpeted itself as the capital's next modern architectural landmark when it opened in 2012. Zaha Hadid's creation looks astonishing in photographs, the retail and office complex writhing futuristically like a Star Wars city (never mind that the adjoining hutong housing was bulldozed for its development). But up close you'll see empty commercial units and poorly maintained public areas, and wonder where it all went wrong.

Perhaps due to its isolated perch along the East 2nd Ring Rd, or more likely the shortsighted commercial model employed by developer SOHO China, the spaceship that is Galaxy Soho has singularly failed to take off.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central attractions

1. Zhihua Temple

0.24 MILES

Lost in a tumbledown hutong neighbourhood, this Buddhist temple is one of Beijing's best-preserved Ming dynasty structures. It was built in 1444 to honour…

2. Shijia Hutong Museum


Shijia Hutong has seen plenty of action over the decades, as this spiffy museum in a rebuilt sìhéyuàn (courtyard residence) explains. English is ample…

3. Dongyue Temple

0.65 MILES

Dedicated to the Eastern Peak (Tài Shān) of China’s five Taoist mountains, this morbid Taoist shrine is an unsettling, albeit entertaining, place of…

4. Ritan Park

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Landscaped like an ornamental Chinese garden, Ritan Park provides peaceful respite for the embassy district's diplomats and worker bees. The historical…

5. Imperial Granaries

0.72 MILES

Several teetering old storehouses here once held grain and rice for the imperial family. Today they've been integrated into a fairly lacklustre enclave of…

6. Poly Art Museum

0.81 MILES

A thrilling discovery, this exquisite collection of treasures is hidden halfway up an office building! China's state-owned Poly Group has funnelled a…

7. Ancient Observatory

0.91 MILES

Astronomers have been studying the mysteries of the cosmos here since 1442. Crowning the 18m-high brick tower – an earlier version of which would have…

8. Sheng Xi Fu Hat Museum

1.01 MILES

This branch of the famous Sheng Xi Fu Hat Store has a quirky, free-to-visit hat museum out the back, revealing the history of the company and of hats in…