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Beijing 1-Day Tour: Exploration of Royal Cultural Sites
The whole independent Beijing culture tour starts with the Yonghe Lamasery, also known as the Lama Temple, which was the royal Tibetan Buddhist temple built during the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). This site can be easily reached by taking Beijing subway line 2 or 5; get out from Exit C of Yonghegong subway station to enter the temple. Alternatively, you can take public bus 13, 116, 117, or 684 to get there.
Before rebuilt into the royal Tibetan Buddhist temple, Yonghe Lamasery used to be the residence of Emperor Yongzheng (1678 - 1735) when he was still a prince, and Emperor Qianlong (1711 - 1799) was also born there. The layout of the temple is strictly symmetrical, with the main halls on a north-south axis and the wing halls on both sides. The crimson walls, yellow glazed tiles, and complicated carvings and decorations all reveal its imperial solemnity and luxury to visitors.
Yonghe Lamasery accepts numerous tourists every day praying for good fortune. Each visitor will be served a buddle of incense for free. You may not miss the chance to make a wish in this prosperous imperial temple.
After 200 yards' walking, you will be at the Xianshi Gate (Gate of the First Teacher) of the Temple of Confucius. Since the Yuan Dynasty (1271 - 1368), people often gathered there to fete the Confucius, a renowned ideologist and the founder of Confucianism. Especially for scholars who desired to gain official titles in the court, most of them would go there to pray for blessings before attending the imperial examination. Even emperors would hold grand ceremonies there to pay homage to this great scholar.
Once you step into the temple, you will see 198 stone tablets inscribed with names of more than 51,000 elite candidates in imperial examination during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties (1271 - 1911). With other precious items on display, you can have a further knowledge of this old examination.
Along a gallery in between of the Temple of Confucius and Imperial Academy, you will find 189 stone steles carved with Thirteen Classics of the Confucianism, which were largely popularized and taught in institutes throughout the country.
After touring the institute, you are advised to walk to the western end of Guozijian Street; take bus no.124 from the nearby Andingmen Nei Station to Gulou bus stop. After alighted, walk across the road to find the entrance of Wannian Hutong to start the exploration of the Shichahai, Beijing's most popular Hutong area with crisscrossing lanes. In old times, royal princes preferred to build their mansions in this area and some of them still remain.
After viewing these exquisite buildings, your one-day independent Beijing cultural tour comes to an end. You may still leave from Wannian Hutong and take subway line 8 at the nearby Shichahai Station to leave.
Recommended Guided Tours:
Beijing One-Day Tours from $59 per person
Other Independent Beijing 1-Day Tours:
Badaling & Sacred Way: day trip to Badaling Great Wall and Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Ox Street Mosque & Liulichang: visit Ox Street Mosque, Fayuan Temple, Taoranting Park, Liulichang Cultural Street
CCTV Tower & 798 Art Zone: to the National Centre for the Performing Arts, CCTV Headquarters, 798 Art Zone