Tucked away in the centre of town right next to the Forbidden City, Zhongshan Park is full of beautiful pagodas, temples and archways. It’s also a great place to catch locals dancing, singing or doing martial arts exercises – and you’re usually very welcome to join in!
This local park is often overlooked by visitors to Beijing, but it’s the perfect place for a relaxing afternoon stroll.
Alter of Land and Grain
Not the most exciting to look at, but of great historical and cultural interest, the Alter of Land and Grain consists of a large raised square on which different types of earth are embedded in a simple pattern. It was the site of sacrifices during the Mong and Qing dynasties. Nearby you can explore the stores, kitchens and butchering pavilion – where animals were prepared and killed as offerings.
Located to the North of the park, the Zhongshan Hall used to contain the remains of Dr Sun Yat-sen (the famous revolutionary after whom the park is named – his Mandarin name being Shun Zhongshan) and was where the emperors would come to pray. It is a spectacular example of Ming dynasty architecture, and one of the most intact in China.
Huge flowerbeds of tulips and cherry blossom trees burst into colour during springtime, making the park a beautiful place to enjoy an afternoon stroll.
Tickets: 3 RMB.
Opening hours: 6:00 – 20:00 (winter), 6:00 – 22:00 (summer).
Recommended visit: 1 hour.
Transport: take metro line 1 to Tiananmen West (天安门西 – exit B).
Top tip: there is also a side entrance just to the East of the Forbidden City ticket office.