10 Amazing Pagodas to Visit in Beijing
Some of the most striking landmarks in the grand and historic capital of Beijing are its pagodas: those skyward-vaulting Taoist and Buddhist structures based on the ancient design of the stupa. To whet your appetite for seeing them in the flesh, here’s a roundup of 10 of the most impressive!
1. Diamond Throne Pagoda (Biyun Temple)
The Diamond Throne Pagoda was built on the high ground behind the Biyun (or Azure Clouds) Temple in 1748 during the Qing Dynasty, when the temple itself was already centuries old. Accessed through a stone archway, the 112-foot-tall pagoda and the rest of the Biyun complex are a signature attraction of Fragrant Hills Park, especially beautiful when the park’s maples are at their fall peak.
2. Pagoda of Everlasting Peace & Long Age (Cishou Temple)
Built in the 1570s during the Ming Dynasty, this pagoda—modeled after one at Tianning (see below)—survived the destruction of the Cishou Temple to which it belonged. Its base includes wonderful Buddhist reliefs.
3. Fragrant Hills Pagoda (Fragrant Hills Park)
Like the Cishou pagoda, the Fragrant Hills Pagoda is a survivor, still standing after the fire that engulfed the adjoining Grand Zongjing Monastery. The 1780-built pagoda soars 130 feet in seven stories.
4. Yong’an Temple White Pagoda (Beihai Park)
More than one earthquake has damaged the White Pagoda at Yong-an Temple in Beihai Park, including the terrible ’76 Tangshan temblor, but repairs after each restored this Tibetan-style tower’s splendor.
5. Jade Peak Pagoda (near the Summer Palace)
The famous royal gardenscape of the Summer Palace, long a retreat for emperors, ranks comfortably among the top attractions in Beijing. The seven-story Jade Peak Pagoda is, in turn, one of its scenic highlights, a brick-and-stone tower topping Jade Spring Hill.
6. Luogong Pagoda (White Cloud Temple)
The Luogong Pagoda, which dates from the Qing Dynasty, helps anchor the lovely spread of the White Cloud Temple, built in the eighth century and once serving as one of the great hubs of Taoism in China.
7. Silver Mountain Pagoda Forest (Changping District)
Beautifully cradled amid steep hills, the Silver Mountain Pagoda Forest includes a cluster of brick-and-stone pagodas dated to the Jin Dynasty and remaining as monuments to the destroyed Fahua (Yanshou) Temple, once one of Beijing’s greatest Buddhist complexes. Two other pagodas here claim Yuan Dynasty pedigree.
8. Tianning Temple Pagoda
One of the most imposing of the landmarks on this list, the enormous early-12th-century pagoda at Tianning Temple looms as a roughly 190-foot-tall, solid-core edifice richly ornamented with reliefs.
9. Jialing Sarira Pagoda (Dajue Temple)
The Ming Dynasty-era Dajue Temple (aka the Temple of Enlightenment) is another standout Beijing attraction, what with its marvelous historic architecture and impressive ancient trees (including a huge, centuries-old gingko). The Jialing Sarira Pagoda was built following the death of the temple’s abbot, Jialing, in 1728 to house his relics.
10. White Pagoda (Miaoying Temple)
Speaking of Tibetan-style pagodas, the White Pagoda at Miaoying Temple (or White Stupa Temple) is the tallest of that kind in all of China.