People’s Cultural Park

Known as Renmin Wen ]iua Gong to the Chinese, the site of this park is the “twin’” of the Sun Yatsen Park, lying on the eastern side of the Tian An Men Gate. Again the main access is through a gateway in the wall a few hundred yards or so east of Tian An Men or by a gateway to the right of the Meridian Gate to the Forbidden City.

Inside the entrance there are magnificent cypress trees surrounding a large paved area. Cross the courtyard towards the gate with three enormous studded doorways. Pass through the gate and cross one of the bridges spanning the small stream. The steps then lead through the Da Ji Men Gale to another courtyard. Beyond, a targe pavilion known as the Qian Dian stands on a third tiered terrace. It has the traditional twin roofs of orange tiles. The gargoyles a he corners of the building are particularly well carved. The central marble ramp of the stairways to the top of the terrace has a design motif” of horses, lions, and dragons. Inside there are 10 huge central columns of timber supporting a roof which has a fine coffered ceiling. The building was,used for ceremonies associated with the Tablets of the Ancestors.

The Zhong Dian, or Middle Hall, which is to the north of the first building, was used to store the tablets when they were not being used in the ceremonies. A third hall stands on a separate terrace north of the Middle Hall. Cultural events and movies are held in the park on weekends and holidays. There is boating in summer and skating in winter. If you are a park-lover you will want to continue your explorations, and you should next see the Temple of the Sun Park, or Ritan Gong Yuan, only a few hundred yards from the International club. Although it has not yet been fully restored, there are some interesting old pavilions, one of which has been converted into the restaurant( closed Fridays) where perhaps the best jiaozi in Beijing are served. You can also visit the site of what was once an altar to the sun. This site is surrounded by a circular wall, but inside nothing is left of the original altar.

Another park worth visiting is the northwestern sector of Beijing. It has fine walls, a lovely lake, and attractive scenery. The Joyous Pavilion Park, or Tao Ran Ting, located slightly west of the southern end of Qian Men Street and not far from the Temple of Heaven, also features a lake and a number of pavilions.