essential architecture
essential site map


top ten world architecture
image use
 Essential Architecture-  Peking

Guangji Temple




situated in Fuchengmennei Street, Xisi


c. 1200


Jin Dynasty


stone, wood


Located on Inner Fuchengmen Street, in the Xicheng District, Guangji Temple is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in China. It is now the headquarters of the Chinese Buddhism Association, and the center to conduct national Buddhist activities.

Originally built in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), additions were made to the temple by successive dynasties. The present temple was completed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the original structure having undergone three expansions, three fires, and three reconstructions. It now covers an area of 5.766 acres. The major structures in the temple are the main gate, the Heavenly King Hall, Mahavira Hall, Yuantong Hall (or Buddhisattva Hall) and Sutra Hall.

The Main Gate includes three arched doors, joined to each other by connecting walls. Each door is adorned with colored glazed eaves and accompanied by a stele. Passing through the gate, visitors will see the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, and will find themselves facing the middle Heavenly King Hall. Inside the Hall, the bronze statue of the Maitreya Buddha is sitting in the dominant place, guarded by the four Heavenly Kings. On the roof of the hall is a Wheel of Dharma, designed to suggest the infinite power of Buddha.

In the second courtyard is the Mahavira Hall. In front of the hall is a bronze vessel that was made in 1793, during the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This fine vessel is 2 meters (6.56 feet) high, cast with the eight treasures of Buddhism -"the wheel, spiral shell, umbrella, canopy, flower, vase, fish, and knot". Inside the hall are statues of Buddha and 18 arhats (Buddhist practitioners said to have special powers). Across their backs is a painting by an artist of the Qing Dynasty. The painting, 5 meters (16.4 feet) high and 10 meters (32.8 feet) wide, is a great artwork, as the artist has painted it with his fingers rather than a brush pen.

The Yuantong Hall in the third courtyard is the residence of Buddhisattva.

The two-storied Sutra Hall of the fourth yard houses the collection of sutras and treasures. It is filled with curiosities that have been given as gifts by friendly Buddhists of other states, and over 100,000 volumes of sutras. Amongst these, the sutras written in blood from the Song (960-1279) and Ming Dynasties are especially precious.

In addition to this is the Xilu Fane, a forum (Jietan) made of white marble where Buddhists used to receive precepts. Along with the Jietan Hall, it is one of the oldest constructions in the temple.

Admission Fee: RMB 5
Opening Hours: 08:40 to 17:30
Time for a Visit: One and a half hours
Bus Route: 13, 823
Electric Bus Route: 102

Guangji Temple, situated in Fuchengmennei Street, Xisi, Beijing, is a famous ancient Buddhist temple in Beijing. In 1983, it was designated as one of national key temples in the areas of the Han nationality. Now, it is the site of Chinese Buddhism Association.

Guangji Temple was founded at the end of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), and destroyed by war afterwards. At the beginning of the Tianshun reign (1457-1464) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Zenghui and Yuanhong, two monks from Shaanxi Province, came here to raise funds and rebuilt this temple at the same place. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1840), because emperors must pass Guangji Temple whenever they went out of the city, it began to be much valued by the imperial family. Emperors of several eras came here in person, inscribed poems, established steles, or granted tablets with autographs to this temple, which suddenly promoted its status. Since then, Guangji Temple has become a very important temple in Beijing. In 1935, it was rebuilt again, and the buildings became more magnificent. In 1953, the Buddhist Association of China was founded here.

The overall arrangement of this temple is symmetrical. On its medial axis stand such important buildings as the Temple Gate, the Main Hall, the Sutra Hall, the Jade Carving Monk Status Attaining Altar, etc. from south to north. There exists a large-scale finger painting on the back wall of the Main Hall which was drawn by Fu Wen, a famous artist of the Qing Dynasty, with fingers. It is the largest extant fresco in China depicting the scene of Buddha expounding Buddhist doctrines, and also a rare artistic work. The Sutra Hall treasures up a lot of precious Buddhist scriptures, and the tooth relics of Buddha and Buddhist relics found from the relics of Thousand Buddha Pagoda of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125) has been moved and enshrined here. In a small yard west of the Sutra Hall there stands a white marble stone carving Monk Status Attaining Altar. It is well preserved, and is the only monk status-attaining altar in Beijing.

Each year Guangji Temple receives a large number of Buddhists and tourists from home and overseas, and many large-scale meetings, religious ceremonies, and ceremonies concerning foreign affairs are frequently held here.