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Beijing's Top 10 : Places of Worship

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  1. South Cathedral

    Also known as St. Mary’s Church, this was Beijing’s first Catholic house of worship. It remains the largest functioning church, and has regular services in a variety of languages including Chinese, English, and Latin. Service times are posted on the noticeboard .

    South Cathedral
  2. Cow Street Mosque

    There are currently about 200,000 Muslims in Beijing. The majority live in the Niu Jie district, which is where you find this mosque, also known as the Niu Jie Mosque. It is the city’s oldest and largest Islamic place of worship. Despite being over one thousand years old, the mosque has recently been renovated to the tune of $2.4 million and looks splendid .

    Cow Street Mosque
  3. Fayuan Temple

    This temple doubles as the city’s Buddhist Academy. Founded in 1956, the Academy trains monks to serve in monasteries throughout China. The temple has an excellent collection of effigies, including a giant reclining Buddha .

    Main hall, Fayuan Temple
  4. Lama Temple

    Formerly one of the most notable centers of Buddhism outside Tibet until it was shut down during the Cultural Revolution. It was reputedly saved from destruction by the intervention of the president, Zhou Enlai. With Buddhism enjoying a resurgence in popularity, the precincts are once again home to around 70 monks .

    Lama Temple
  5. North Cathedral

    Not far west of Bei Hai Park, this cathedral is a twin-towered piece of Gothic confectionery, painted in blue with white trim, like a Wedgwood dish. But the bright façade masks a bloody past: not long after the Jesuits finished the church in 1889 it came under siege from the Boxers during the 1900 rebellion. Many of the congregation sheltering inside were killed.

    • Xishiku Dajie

    • Subway: Xidan

  6. Confucius Temple (Kong Miao)

    During the Cultural Revolution, Confucianism was a dirty word, and its temples were converted to other uses, or just abandoned. Recent years have seen a U-turn, with Confucian values being touted anew by Beijing’s leaders, but this important temple remains neglected .

    Confucius Temple
  7. Wanshou Temple

    Up in the northwest Haidian district, the Wanshou (Longevity) Temple is worth a stop en route to the Summer Palace. Looking not unlike a mini Forbidden City, the complex houses the Beijing Art Museum – a collection of historical relics including bronzes, jade, carved lacquer, and a small but exquisite collection of Buddha images.

    • Xisanhuan Lu, on the north side of Zizhu Qiao Bridge

    • 6845 6997

    • Subway: Xizhi Men, then bus 300, 360, or 361

    • Open9am–4:30pm Tue–Sun

    • ¥20

  8. St. Joseph’s Church

    Also known as the East Cathedral, this is an attractive triple-domed church in the Baroque style. It was first built on the site of the residence of a Jesuit missionary in 1655 and, following earthquakes, fire, and the destruction wrought during the Boxer Rebellion, has had to be rebuilt on a number of occasions since. It is fronted by a gateway and piazza, and is beautifully lit at night.

    • 74 Wangfujing Dajie

    • 6524 0634

    • Subway: Dengshikou

  9. White Cloud Temple

    Home to the China Daoist Association, the temple was founded in AD 739 and is Beijing’s largest Daoist shrine. Daoism, also known as Taoism, is a Chinese folk religion, which centers around maintaining a positive relationship with several categories of gods, ghosts, and ancestral spirits .

  10. St. Michael’s Church

    One of the city’s less well-known churches, St. Michael’s is hidden away in the old Legation Quarter. It was built in 1901, with three spires in Gothic style, to serve the area’s various embassies. Narrowly escaping destruction during the Cultural Revolution, it was renovated by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Church, to whom it now belongs.

    • Dong Jiao Min Xiang

    • Subway: Chongwen Men

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