The Guanghua Temple in Beijing is pretty small and not featured in many guide books, so you’ll avoid the crowds of tourists, yet it’s one of the most beautiful small city temples in Beijing. It is a renowned Buddhist temple founded in the Yuan dynasty, over 700 years ago, and while over the years there has been extensions, modifications and restoration work the architecture still retains that ancient Chinese style.
As with most Chinese temples, bright red flags, lanterns and banners are everywhere, adding vibrant colour to this ancient building. In addition, ancient trees and plants dotted around the complex bring in a very relaxed atmosphere where you can feel calm and close to the natural world.
Wander around the courtyards of this lovely temple and admire the effort put into every little detail of the buildings. There are gorgeous carvings, paintings and lanterns everywhere, as well as the usual religious items and paraphernalia.
The Guanghua Temple is a great example of traditional Chinese temple architecture. Look out for the detailing on the roofs, carvings on the eaves and symmetrical courtyard layouts.
The temple really comes to life during major Chinese festivals – with brightly coloured flags and events such as lion dancing.
Opening hours: 8:00 – 17:00
Recommended visit: 1 hour.
Transport: from the Bell Tower, walk East for 3 minutes along Gulou West Street (鼓楼西大街), turn left into Ya’er Hutong (鸦儿胡同) and follow the road round to the right. The temple is located on your right.
Top tip: a small donation in the small red boxes located at every hall is very welcome.