Kaiyuan Temple


This temple dates from AD 540 but was destroyed in 1966, the first year of the Cultural Revolution. Little remains apart from a bell tower and the dirt-brown Xumí Pagoda (须弥塔; Xūmí Tǎ), a well-preserved, nine-eaved structure (dating from AD 636) topped with a spire. Its arched doors and carved stone doorway are particularly attractive, as are the carved figures on the base. You can enter a shrine at the bottom of the pagoda, but you can't climb up.

Also displayed, near the entrance, is a colossal stone bixi, or a mythical, tortoise-like dragon – China’s largest – with a vast chunk of its left flank missing (as well as the stele it would have once carried), and its head propped up on a plinth. Dating from the late Tang era, the creature was excavated in 2000 from a street in Zhengding.

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