Built in 1319 during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Beijing Dongyue Temple, a Taoist temple, is located in Chaowai area, Chaoyang District. This ancient temple is one of the largest temples of Taoism in northern China. It is the shrine of the God of Mount Tai, one of the Five Great Mountains in China. Having stood for almost 700 years, Dongyue Temple is considered a perfect example of magnificence and grandeur. Its long history demonstrates its value, especially as the Beijing Folklore Museum is also located within the temple complex. Nowadays, it is protected as a National Key Cultural Relics Unit. The cultural relics of Yuan Dynasty displayed in this museum are greatly appreciated by visitors.
With an area of 11.7 acres (4.7 hectares), Dongyue Temple mainly contains three courtyards. The main buildings were erected on a traditional north-south axis. The secondary buildings are equally distributed east and west of this axis. The purpose of the east side is mainly for living. This area is just like a big-scale garden with abundant flowers and fruit trees. The west side of the temple consists of several small courtyards. Most of them were built with the financial support of local people. The whole temple has almost 400 rooms which were mainly built in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). During the construction, craftsmen of Qing Dynasty followed traditional architectural style and skills of Yuan Dynasty. Hence, visitors can see the best-preserved rooms with typical Yuan Dynasty architectural style.
Built in 1602, a yellow glazed archway is located opposite the main gate of the temple across Chaowai Street. There is a glowing red pearl in the middle of the top of the archway. On the north and south sides of the top, there are two stone tablets with a length of 9 feet (2.8 meters) and a width of 3 feet (0.9 meters). One is engraved with "Forever Prosperity of the Empire"; the other one is engraved with "Worship Mount Tai". These two tablets express a good will for social welfare and national greatness. There was a gate to the north of this archway. However, it was dismantled in 1988 because the government tried to broaden the Chaowai Street. On the north side of the street stands Lingxing Gate, the main gate of the temple, with a bell tower on the left and a drum tower on the right. Under the roof of the gate, there is a horizontal tablet bearing the name "Dongyue Temple" that was written by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.
Entering the main gate, is Zhandai Gate (also Dragon Tiger Gate), meaning the Gate of Viewing Mt. Tai. This magnificent archway with a hip roof has three entrances in the central hallway, and two side rooms enshrining two door-gods and ten imperial guards of Mt. Tai.
A royal path named "Happiness Road" extends north through the courtyard behind the gate. There are two stone tablet pavilions on both sides of the path, showing two memorials of Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty. There are also many stone steles with calligraphic masterpieces of ancient Chinese celebrities in the yard. About 140 stone steles dating from Yuan, Ming (1368-1644) and Qing dynasties once stood in this temple. Nowadays, 90 steles remain there. On the east and the west of the yard, are two long galleries containing 76 small rooms with vivid clay sculptures. They represent the 76 departments in hell under the jurisdiction of the God of Mt. Tai.
On the north end of the "Happiness Road" lies Mount Tai Palace, the main palace of the temple. It consists of a central hall and two wing halls on east and west. The pillars and roofs are decorated with gold dragons and exquisite paintings. On the top of the central hall, there is a plaque of Mount Tai Palace which was written by Kangxi Emperor. All around this plaque is decorated with exquisite gold-made patterns of leaves and flowers. The central hall is dedicated to a large statue of the God of Mount Tai accompanied by some courtiers. To the east are the Hall of Wealth and East Prince Hall. To the west are the Hall of Childbirth and the Prince Hall. Each hall has rare cultural relics of Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.
Passing through Mount Tai Palace, there is the living palace called "Yu De". It was dedicated to the statues of God and Goddess of Mount Tai. Nowadays, this living palace is used to display the Nanmu wooden sculptures of some Taoist deities.
In the northernmost part of this temple is a two-storey palace. Nowadays, it has become the Beijing Folklore Museum. Opened to the public in 1997, this museum contains 9 permanent halls and 4 independent exhibition halls. The exhibitions mostly contain well-preserved cultural relics, such as ancient Chinese clothes, traditional handicrafts and folk heritages.
Every year, during spring and mid-autumn festivals, Dongyue Temple Fair and many other folk activities are held in the temple. Local people and tourists are always attracted by carved artworks and many other folk handicrafts.
How to Get to Dongyue Temple:
Take bus 75, 110, 139 or 615 and get off at Shenlu Jie Station.
1. Take Subway Line 6, and get off at Dongdaqiao Station. Get out from Exit A, and walk west for about five minutes.
2. Take Subway Line 2 or Line 6, and get off at Chaoyangmen Station. Get out from Exit A and walk east for about eight minutes.
Beijing Bus / Subway Search
Recommended Nearby Attractions:
Temple of the Sun (Ritan Park)
Sanlitun Bar Street
Chaoyang Park (Sun Park)