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Altar of the Sun (Ritan Park)

It is on Ritan Road North in Chaoyang District, about 10 km (6.2 miles) from the center of the city. It is one of the five famous altars in Beijing built in 1530, which was the venue where the emperor offered sacrifice to the sun during Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties (1644-1911). Ancient buildings in it were devastated before 1949. In 1951, the local government began the reconstruction of the relics in it; and in 1956, it was open to public with an extended area of 206,200 sq meters (246,613 sq yards). In recent years, new scenic areas are accessible to the visitors. An amusement park has been built for children; anglers can have a great time in the fishing zone; music festivals, the flower shows in the spring, the adoption and caring for the ancient trees and other various activities attract lots of people.

Reappearance of the original
At first, the west-facing altar in it was a raised rectangular white stone dais. Its surface was red glazed, symbolizing the sun. In the Qing Dynasty, the altar was rebuilt in brick, with nine-stair steps in the east, west, north, and south, each about 16.7 meters (18.3 yards) long, 16.7 meters wide and 2 meters (6.6 feet) high. The altar we see today was reconstructed in 1985 in accordance with its form in Qing Dynasty. Low walls covered with green glazed tiles surround the altar, measuring about 255 meters (279 yards) around and forming a square of about 4,667 sq meters (5,582 sq yards). The wall has six white stone gates on all four sides. Three gates sit in the west; outside these gates, there are big iron stoves which were used to burn the oblations. In the other three sides respectively have one gate.

By the northwest of the square a palace called Jufu was built, which originally stands in the south and in 1742 in the Qing Dynasty, the Emperor Qianlong made it change its place. The Jufu Palace was a rectangular courtyard. Three main halls face the south and in the east and west sides of the palace separately stand the three other halls. There, the emperor could relax and change his clothes.

Shen Ku (Holy Storehouse) and Shen Chu (Holy Kitchen) are located outside the north white stone gate. The west-facing Shen Ku is the place where the enshrined god worship tablets were stored, while the south-facing Shen Chu is where the oblations were made and deposited. Zaisheng Pavilion by the north of Shen Ku and Shen Chu is where animal sacrifices were slaughtered.

There are 44 ancient trees in it, one of which is a 1,100-year-old cypress tree. Its twisting, encircling and upward-pointing branches are just like nine black dragons, so it is named "Nine Dragon Cypress (Jiulong Cypress)".

A Sketch of New Scenery

 Yuxin Garden

Yuxin Garden takes an area of 3,000 sq meters. The scenery is enchanting: walking along the winding path in the garden you can see a sycamore one meter (1.1 yards) in girth. The thick-branched and wide-spreading tree is like a beach umbrella, providing welcome shade for summer visitors.

 Southwest Scenic Section

The forest-clad mountain and the beautiful lake complete the scene. The lake covers an area of about 4,700 sq meters (5,621 sq yards), and it sparkles in the sunlight. Ancient-style pavilions, painted stone and boats wait by the side of the lake.

 Qinghui Pavilion

Qinghui Pavilion is located in the southeast side. You can enjoy the beautiful sunrise here.
 

Entrance Fee:
Free
Opening Hours:
06:00—21:00 (Winter)  06:00—22:00 (Summer)
Subway Routes: Take Subway Line 1 or Subway Line 2 to Jianguomen Station. Get out from Exit B. Then walk about 1km to the south gate.
Bus Routes:
1. Take bus 639 or 640 to Ritan Gongyuan Station.
2. Take bus 44, 750 or 800 to Yabao Lu Station; walk east.
3. Take bus 28 or 43  to Fangcaodi Nan Station; walk west.
4. Take bus 126, 804, 9, 99, 673, 666, 403, 1, 120, 728, 205 and get off at Ritan Road; walk around 400 meters toward north to reach the South Gate of the park.
 Beijing Bus / Subway Search
Best time to visit:
April-November

Related parks in Beijing:

Recommended Nearby Attractions:
Dongyue Temple
Sanlitun Bar Street
Workers Stadium
Tuanjiehu Park

Suggested Itinerary:
Dongyue Temple and Silk Market: one day tour to Temple of Dongyue, Zhihua Temple, Ritan Park (Altar of the Sun), Xiushui Market
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