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Zhongshan Park

Updated2008-06-06 10:19 | Source

  Covering an area of 24 hectares (60 acres),

  the Zhongshan Park lies west of Tian'anmen Gate.

  About a thousand years ago, this park used to be the

  site of Xingguosi (Temple of National Revival) in

  the northeastern part of the city of Yanjing (Yan

  Capital, the old name of Beijing) during the Liao

  and Jin dynasties (9l6-l234). The original buildings

  vanished long ago, but some of the ancient cypresses

  still survive. During the reign of Emperor Yongle of

  the Ming Dynasty (1403-1424), when Beijing was made

  the capital in 1420, the Taimiao (Imperial Ancestral

  Temple) and the Shejitan (Altar of Land and Grain)

  were built. The altar was erected in 1421. In 1914,

  it was converted into the Central Park, and in l928

  it got its present name: Zhongshan Park, in memory

  of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Since l949, it has greatly

  improved both in natural beauty and in recreational


  The whole park is permeated by a peaceful

  atmosphere. Behind the colourful flower "vase"

  stands a memorial arch of white marble with the

  inscription "Defend Peace".

  This is a huge, artful and intricate rock lying

  behind the marble archway at the end of a pine-

  shaded path. It was transferred from the ruins of

  Yuanmingyuan (Park of Perfection and Light). From

  here to the north of an area of flower beds, a grove

  of ancient cypresses provides an extraordinary view.

  Seven of these trees are particularly large; each

  would need four persons to encircle it with their

  arms outstretched full length. They are believed to

  be about a thousand years old. Behind the grove and

  before entering into Shejitan, a pair of statues of

  sitting lions, carved in stone, lies a heroic

  manner. They were discovered in 1918 in the ruins of

  an ancient temple in Taming County, Hebei Province.

  Entering the altar by its south gate, the

  perspective immediately becomes different and

  enchanting. To the east is the Music Hall, now

  rebuilt into an amphitheatre with round pillars.

  Here many well-known and popular dramas are often

  presented and concerts are frequently held. Shrebs,

  peony beds and well-kept lawns are everywhere.

  During late spring and early summer, the peonies are

  in full blossom; many of them are rare and valuable

  species. From the garden, a straight path leads to

  the altar, which was once used by the emperors of

  the Ming and Qing dynasties for offering sacrifices

  to the gods of land and grains. The altar is a

  square terrace of white marble with three tiers. The

  top tier is sectioned and filled with earth in five

  different colours (red, black, blue, white, and

  yellow) to symbolize the feudal dictum: "All land

  under heaven belongs to the Emperor." North of the

  altar is the Baidian (Hall of Worship). Built in

  1425 in the Ming Dynasty, it is now the best-

  preserved Ming Dynasty temple of wooden structure in

  Beijing. There is no ceiling under the roof, so the

  beams and posts are exposed. In l928, it was renamed

  the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. Since 1949, the

  building has been thoroughly repaired and


  The building behind this was formerly the front

  gateway of the altar, inside which 72 iron halberds

  were kept. They were looted away when the combined

  forces of the eight imperialist powers invaded

  Beijing in l900. Further back are the Cypress Yard

  and Houhu (Rear Moat). In the courtyard the tourist

  may find tables built with Han Dynasty bricks in

  quaint patterns.

  East of the altar is a very quiet section containing

  pavilions, rocky hills, unique rocks, a tea-house

  and a restaurant.

  Going westward along a covered corridor from the

  south gate of the park, the tourist can reach the

  goldfish breeding ground, where many rare species of

  the fish are kept. Further on is the quietest spot

  in the park area, where a rich variety of pavilions,

  bridges, rocky hills, flowers, and trees are

  artfully laid out, centering around a lotus pond.

  The Water Pavilion, built over water on three sides,

  is now used for exhibitions of various kinds.

  Proceeding northward from here the tourist comes to

  Lantingbeiting (Pavilion of the Orchard Pavilion

  Steles). To the east is the Tanghuawu (Tang Flower

  Village), a hot-house where many rare flowers and

  plants such as the canna lily, orchid, and lemon

  trees are displayed all the year round. Further east

  lies the Xiliting (Pavilion for Rehearsing Rites).

  This was Formerly the Honglusi (Office of Rites) in

  the Ming and Qing dynasties, which moved from Pingpu

  Street to the present location. Here, officials who

  were for the first time received by the Emperor

  rehearsed the rites before their audience took


  The western section of the park is the busiest.

  Here, in the midst of the cypress grove, are many

  pavilions and artificial rockeries, as well as a

  hall of entertainment and a ground for riding on an

  electric horse. In the cypress grove itself,

  colourful lights are hung, under which the tourist

  may drink tea, listen to music, play chess or simply

  chat on summer evenings.

  The park is also well-known for its great variety of

  flowers and goldfish, ancient halls and cypresses,

  the charming pavilions, summer houses and grotesque

  rock gardens. The park attracts milions of visitors

  each year.


Editor : Zhu Jia

Opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics