essential architecture
essential site map


top ten world architecture
image use
 Essential Architecture-  Peking

Beihai Park




Beijing / Peking, China




Yuan Dynasty




Thanks to R Todd King,
Beihai park is just a few hundred meters northwest of the Forbidden City. Its main attraction is its topography. Most of Beijing is an unrelentingly flat plain, but Beihai boasts a large lake and a few surrounding hills decorated with restored pavilions. The artificial hills are believed to have been created in the Yuan dynasty by the Mongol Khans, who used the area as a basecamp. Nothing of the original palace survives except a large jar of green jade that was given to the Khan in 1265. Supposedly it stored his wine until Taoist priests appropriated it to store pickles.

The Beihai skyline is dominated by an enormous milk-bottle structure called a dagoba, erected first in 1651 and later in 1741 in honor of the Dali Lama's visit. Damaged in a 1976 earthquake, it has since been restored. Within it are believed to be centuries-old relics, including robes and jewelry of past Dali Lamas.

The park is worth a short visit, especially in summer, when you can rent paddleboats to cruise around the lake. However, it's fairly crowded since the admission is cheap and it's so close to the city center.
The Beihai Park (Pinyin: Beihai Gongyuán) is an imperial garden northwest of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Initially built in the 10th century, it is a typical Chinese garden. Before the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, this area was part of the Forbidden City; since 1925, it is open to the public.

The Park has an area of more than 700,000 m˛, with a water area that covers more than half of the entire Park. At the center of the Park is an island called Qionghua Island with a highest point of 32 m. In the north area of the park is a big pool called Taiye Pool connecting the two other pools, which are called Middle Sea and South Sea respectively. Therefore the Taiye Pool is also called Beihai (Northern Sea).

Beihai literally means "Northern Sea". There are also corresponding "Central" and "Southern Seas" (Zhongnanhai). The complex of buildings around Zhongnanhai houses China's paramount leaders.

Noticeable places

White Dagoba Temple (Bai Ta).The Bai Ta (White Pagoda) is 40 m high and placed on the highest point on Qiong Island. Its body is made of white stone. Sun, moon and flame engravings decorate the surface of the tower. Destroyed in 1679 by an earthquake, it was rebuilt the following year. Same in 1976, because of an earthquake which occurred at Tangshan City, near Beijing City. Hidden inside the tower are Scriptures, Buddhist monk's mantle and alms bowl, and bones of monks (left after they are burned).

On the north bank lies the Five-Dragon Pavilion, which was built in the Ming Dynasty.

The Nine-Dragon Wall lies north of the Five-Dragon Pavilion. It was built in 1756 and is one of three walls of its kind in China. It was made of seven-color glaze bricks. Nine complete dragons playing in the clouds are decorated on both sides of the wall.

Also on the north bank is Jingxin Room (Quieting Heart Room). It is a garden in the garden, which covers an area of more than 4,000 m˛.

The Circular Wall (Tuancheng) with its main structure the Hall of Received Light (Chengguangdian), a spacious building with a double-eaved roof made of yellow glazed tiles bordered in green. Inside there is a 1.6 m tall Buddha, which was presented to Emperor Guangxu by a Cambodian king. It is carved from a single piece of pure white jade inlaid with precious stones. The Eight-Power Allied Forces damaged the statue’s left arm when they invaded Beijing in 1900.