Ancient Trees in Beijing

July 10th, 2020
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It is said that Dr Henry Kissinger, when he visited the Temple of Heaven, stated that while the USA could recreate the Temple of Heaven if it desired, it could not create the trees!

These ancient trees are living relics with stories and legends. They bear witness to history.

Beijing, the capital of China, is an ancient city. She has more than 3,000 years of history, nearly 1,000 years as a capital. One of the witnesses of this long history is the more than 40,000 ancient trees distributed in the suburbs and urban areas of Beijing.

Now follow us to have a virtual tour of viewing some of the most treasured ancient trees in Beijing.

1. King of Arborvitae ( 侧柏)

Xinchengzi Town, Miyun District, Beijing, is located in the far northeastern suburb of Beijing. There is an ancient arborvitae tree ( 侧柏)in the town, which is the oldest known tree in Beijing at present.

It is inferred that the tree is over 3,500 years old, and is called the ‘King of Arborvitae’ .

King of Arborvitae( 侧柏)

2. Ancient Green Sandalwood(檀香树)

In Nankou Town, Changping District, Beijing, there is a 3,000-year-old first-class ancient sandalwood tree(檀香树)named ‘Ancient Green Sandalwood’.

Ancient Green Sandalwood(檀香树)

From a distance, it looks like a ‘giant bonsai’. The local residents prefer to call it a ‘Fortune Tree’ .

3. An ancient locust tree (刺槐树)

On the north bank of the upper reaches of Yanqi Lake in Huairou District, Beijing, there is a huge ancient locust tree (刺槐树) over 2,000 years old, which should be planted in the Han Dynasty, according to the research.

An ancient locust tree (刺槐树)

4. King of Cypress Trees ( 柏树)

In the upper mountain of Fangshan District, Beijing, there is the largest group of ancient trees in Beijing. There are more than 10 ancient trees over a thousand years old.

King of Cypress Trees ( 柏树)

One of the cypress trees( 柏树) is more than 1,500 years old and is called the ‘King of Cypress Trees’

5. Beijing Ginkgo King (银杏树)

In Jugezhuang Town, Miyun District, Beijing, there is a ginkgo tree, known as ‘Beijing Ginkgo King’.

Beijing Ginkgo King (银杏树)

According to research, this ginkgo tree (银杏树) was planted in the Tang Dynasty, and it has been more than 1,300 years ago.

6. Old Trees at Tanzhe Temple and Jietai Temple

6. Tanzhe Temple, located in Mentougou District, Beijing, is the oldest Buddhist temple in Beijing. There is a tall and lush ginkgo tree (银杏树)(6A) in the temple yard, which is estimated to be more than 1,300 years old, and was named ‘Emperor Tree’ by the Qing Dynasty Emperor.

a tall and lush ginkgo tree (银杏树)(6A)

In addition, there is a white pine (白松)in the temple, which is 1,000 years old (6B).

a white pine (白松)(6B)

The Jietai Temple not far from Tanzhe Temple, it has a history of 1,400 years, and there are also 4 thousand-year-old trees in the temple (6C).

An ancient tree in Jietai Temple

7. An ancient ginkgo tree (银杏树)

Outside the Great Wall of Juyongguan Pass in Nankou Town, Changping District, Beijing, there is a ginkgo tree (银杏树), which is said to be planted in the Tang Dynasty and is about 1,200 years old.

a ginkgo tree (银杏树)

8. More ancient trees in Beijing

The above-mentioned ancient trees are distributed in the suburbs of Beijing.

There are also many ancient trees in the urban areas of Beijing, such as Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Temple of Confucius, etc. Many of which are 300 years old, 400 years old, 500 years old, or even more than 600 years old (8).

An old cypress tree in Temple of Heaven

Further Readings

Tips for Visiting Tiananmen Square
Tips for visiting Summer Palace
Forbidden City Travel Tips – The Palace Museum Travel Tips

Tips for Visiting the Great Wall of China around Beijing
How to Visit Ming Tombs in Beijing
How to visit Beihai Park Beijing
How to visit Shichahai
How to visit Bird’s Nest and Water Cube
How to visit CCTV Tower in Beijing
How to Visit National Grand Theatre in Beijing
Top 10 Most Romantic Places in Beijing
How to Enjoy Beijing Nightlife
Top 10 Beijing Souvenirs
Top 10 Tourist Scams Beijing

Any questions, just drop a line.

An Old Photo of Wangfujing Street

July 9th, 2020
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An old photo of Wangfujing Street

Plan your Beijing tour? As a first-time visitor to Beijing, you will definitely spare some time strolling the traffic-free commercial Wangfujing Street to feel the vibe of the modern Beijing.

The No.01 street in Beijing is a 810-meter walking street home to several big shopping malls, such Oriental Plaza, Beijing Department Store, Sun Dong An Plaza, the New China Woman and Children Department etc..

It also has two large bookstores – the Wangfujing Xinhua Bookstore and the Beijing Foreign Languages Bookstore.

Today I come across an photo of Wangfujing which seems it was taken in 1970s on the website (Old Beijing). The photo also marks the original 13 places during that old period. It makes me nostalgic for the familiar street and feel the desire to explore the photo a little further.

An old photo of Wangfujing Street taken in 1960s (from

1. The Literary Federation Building (文联大楼)

This was the original building for China Federation of Literary and Art Circles(CFLAC) during the period from Nov, 1956 to Sept, 1969. Now the present building address for CFLAC is at Building 32, Compound 1, Beishatan, Beijing.

The original circled No.01 Place on the photo is close to the present address of Crowne Plaza Beijing Wangfujing.

2. East Cathedral (东堂)

No change for the church marked as No.02 Place on the photo. This is Dongtang Cathedral ( or East Cathedral), which is also known as St. Joseph’s Church or Wangfujing Church. It is located on the most commercial street in Beijing – Wangfujing Street ( No.74 Wangfujing Street).

For more information on the church, please check out the link: Catholic Mass Times Beijing.

3. The Golden City Building (金城大厦)

The building on the photo marked as No.03 Place no longer exists in the spot, basically it has been incorporated into the present Sun Dong An Plaza.

4. Department Stores (百货大楼)

This time-honored department store still stands there, elegantly upgraded, having given lingering nostalgic memory for several generations.

5.Blue Sky Fashion Shop (蓝天时装店)

There were two great fashion shops in Wangfujing in Beijing at that time, one called Hongdu Fashion Store and the other blue Sky Fashion Store. These two shops came from Shanghai to Beijing.

The Blue Sky Fashion Store now has been an outlet in the bigher shopping mall known an Sun Dong An Plaza.

6. Wangfujing Hengdeli Watches & Clocks Shop (亨得利)

Hengdeli Watches & Clocks Chain Shops still have an outlet in Wangfujing: No.176, Wangfujing, Dongcheng District, Beijing. Tel: 010-65238482

7. Tongshenghe Shoe Store 同升和

Founded in 1902, The Tongshenghe Shoe Store is famous for its shoes and hats.

The century-old name “Tongshenghe” has returned to Wangfujing Street in Beijing.

Dong Dachuan, general manager of Tongshenghe shoe store, which was founded in 1902, said that The time-honored brand is an excellent representative of Traditional Chinese culture and contains the unique spiritual and aesthetic values of the Chinese nation.

8.Dong An Market (东安市场)

Located at the original place marked as No.8 Place, the old Dong An Market has been morphed into a huge shopping mall known as Sun Dong An Plaza .

It is one of the busiest shopping centers in Beijing. The spaces are leased by tenants that include an internationally known department store, many international brand outlets the first eight-screen cineplex in Beijing.

9.Beijing Photo Studio 中国照相馆(王府井店)

China Photo Studio (Wangfujing), located at 180 Wangfujing Street. It is a time-honored photo studio in China.

It was officially opened on September 25, 1956. It still is open to the public to this day.

10. Goldfish Alley West 金鱼胡同西口

The Goldfish Lane is well known in Beijing. The west end of the lane is the north start of the 1600 meters traffic-free Wangfujing Street.

The Goldfish Alley is centrally located in Beijing with several luxury hotels such as Palace Hotel, Hilton Hotel and Novotel Beijing Peace.

11. Dengshidajie West (灯市大街西口)

At the west end of Dengshixidajie Street (dajie here means “Street”), there are two high-end hotels — Tianlun Dynasty Hotel and Crowne Plaze Hotel Wangfujing.

12. Medical Equipment Wholesale Store(医疗器械批发商店)

Its name has been changed, now known as Beijing Wangfujing Medical Equipment Store

Address: 210 Qianmen Street, Dongcheng District, View the map

Telephone: (010)65240122

13. Shuaifuyuan Alley Garden (帅府园)

The west of Shuaifuyuan Alley ends at Wangfujing Street. it is said that it was originally the house for Tang Dynasty General Luo Yifu seat.

In the Republic of Chinait was used for the garrison headquarters. In 1965, when the name was rectified, it was renamed Shuaifuyuan Hutong (Alley). During the cultural Revolution, it was once renamed anti-Imperialist Hospital Front Street. Now back to Shuaifuyuan Alley.

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.

Beijing Story: the Temple of Heaven is not on the Central Axis

July 8th, 2020
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Mr. Liang Sicheng ( known as the father of modern Chinese architecture) thinks that “the Beijing central axis starts from Yongdingmen in the south and reaches the Bell and Drum Tower in the north.

To this day, the Central Axis is like the backbone of Beijing, supporting the city’s continuous development and growth.

Yongdingmen Gate, the start of th Central Axis

However, as seen from the map, the Temple of Heaven is not located on the central axis like Qianmen and Tian ‘anmen, but a little to the east of the central axis. So why is that?

The Temple of Heaven, like the Palace Museum, was built in the eighteenth year of Yongle (1420). At that time, There were no altars of Earth, Altar of Sun, Altar of Moon and Altar of Agriculture in Beijing.

As a unique group of sacrificial buildings in Beijing, the site of the Temple of Heaven could have been located near the Forbidden City, at a prominent position on the central axis, instead of the southeast of Beijing.

The Temple of Heaven

So 600 meters to the east from the central axis! Why such a big deviation? Could the ancient craftsmen have made mistakes in such an important place? Or is there any special emphasis on the Temple of Heaven?

Tiananmen Tower

In fact, the root cause is not the Yongle Emperor and the designers of the Temple of Heaven, but the sun in the sky. According to the “Book of Changes”, the southeast is the most abundant direction of the sun’s rays, of course, hence the best place to build worship heaven.

Therefore, the Temple of Heaven was chosen by the ancient people in the south of Beijing 600 meters to the east of the central axis.

The entrance to Forbidden City, namely the southern gate, or Meridian Gate

Not only is the Temple of Heaven located on the east side of the central axis, but its own axis is not in the middle. Instead, it is in the east, which divides the Temple of Heaven into two parts: the big west and the small east.

Why the axis deviation in the Temple of Heaven itself? There are several claims as to the reasons behind the deviation. But one suggestion, I personally prefer is that the emperors entered the Temple of Heaven through the west gate, which is lined with green cypresses on both sides, and leads directly to Danbi Bridge.

Such a layout would make the road for the emperors to enter the altar longer and make the altar wider, hence the bigger west part of the temple.

The Bell Tower, the end of the Central Axis

For more information on the Temple of Heaven, please check out the link: How to visit the Temple of Heaven.

Further Readings

Top 10 Attractions in Beijing
How to Visit Forbidden City
How to Visit Temple of Heaven
How to Visit Summer Palace
How to Visit Ming Tombs
How to Visit the Great Wall of China
How to Visit Tiananmen Square
How to Visit Hutongs
How to Visit Olympic Sites

Top 10 Markets in Beijing
Top 10 Shopping Malls in Beijing
Beijing Shopping

Wangfujing Night Snack Street
Qianmen Commercial Street
Beijing Huguosi Street

Any questions, just drop a line.