Workers' Cultural Palace

Top choice in Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central

One of Beijing's best-kept secrets – despite being next to the Gate of Heavenly Peace – the Workers' Cultural Palace was gifted to the masses by Mao in 1950 as a place of wholesome recreation. For several centuries prior, it was the most sacred temple in Beijing, where emperors would come to worship their ancestors. The cathedral-like Sacrificial Hall is as magnificent as any imperial building in Beijing.

Ancient cyprus and pine trees, one reputedly planted by a Ming emperor, line the approach to the Glazed Gate (琉璃门; Liúli Mén), said to be a Ming dynasty original, which would make it older than those in the mostly Qing-era Forbidden City next door.

Marble bridges lead to three flights of steps ascending to the mighty Sacrificial Hall (太庙; Tài Miào), its sign inscribed in Chinese and Manchu. Gods alone were permitted to traverse the central plinth; the emperor was consigned to the left-hand flight. This hall would have held the thrones of departed royals and their consorts; now it holds rotating calligraphy displays and the like. Enter to admire the epic scale of the interior and its astonishing carpentry.

The northern edge of the park abuts the palace moat, where you can find a bench and park yourself in front of a fine view. Exit through the northwest gate to enter the Forbidden City ticket area, neatly bypassing the tourist scrum entering via the Gate of Heavenly Peace.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Forbidden City & Dongcheng Central attractions

1. Sacrificial Hall


The main attraction within the Workers' Cultural Palace is the monumental Sacrificial Hall, as exquisite as any temple you'll find in Beijing. Built in…

2. Middle Hall

0.13 MILES

Known locally as the Resting Hall, this imperial building has a yellow-glazed eave-hipped roof. Closed for visitors.

3. Duan Gate

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Sandwiched between the Gate of Heavenly Peace and Meridian Gate, Duan Gate (Gate of Uprightness) was stripped of its treasures by foreign forces quelling…

4. Rear Hall

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One of the main halls within the Workers' Cultural Palace, but closed to visitors. It was used to store the spirit tablets of imperial ancestors in its…

5. Gate of Heavenly Peace

0.16 MILES

Instantly recognisable by its giant framed portrait of Mao, and guarded by two pairs of Ming dynasty stone lions, the double-eaved Gate of Heavenly Peace …

6. Zhongshan Park

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Named after China's first president Sun Yatsen (alo called Sun Zhongshan), whose body was placed here briefly after his death, this lovely park, filled…

7. Altar of Land and Grain

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This square, open-air altar (tán) was where the emperor would come to pray and give offerings to the gods of land and grain in return for favourable…

8. Meridian Gate


This mighty edifice is the Forbidden City's front door, where all visitors to the Palace Museum pass through. During imperial times, the central channel,…