Beijing has some fine parks to explore, these Often providing a welcome relief from the hectic pace of a busy tour program. Although some are located on the outskirts of Beijing there are many quite near the centra hotels. The main entrance to Sun Yatsen Park, or Zhong Shan Gong Yuan, is through a gateway about a hundred yards or so west of Tian An Men Gate. There is also another entrance on the left of the Meridian Gate to the Forbidden City. Open 8 AM 9 PM.
When you enter the main gate you will pass under a white marble pail lou which has three passageways. Follow the path as it turns left and take the first turn to your right towards the gateway in the wall. Note the beautiful cypress trees, many of which are thought to be over a thousand years old; note also the small pavilion with the single glazed tile roof in orange. After you pass through the gateway you will see a fan-shaped mod- ern theater with large columns to your right, built in a design completely out of character with the rest of the buildings in the park. Ahead of you is the Altar of the Earth and Harvests. The Altar is Surrounded by a small square wall faced with orange tiles to the south, blue tiles to the east, black to the north, and yellow to the west. The passageway through each wall passes under a pai lou. Inside the walls there are three square-shaped tiers leading to the top surface which is the altar. Step up the three tiers and you will see that the top surface is hared- packed earth divided into five areas, reprinted by earth of different colors: red to the south, yellow in the middle, black to the north, white to the west, and green to the east. This earth was originally carried to the Altar from the a corners of the empire and symbolized the principle that the “Son of-Heaven’” owned everything on earth.
The emperor came twice a year to make sacrifices o he gods so that sowing would be successful and the crop bountiful. North of the altar stand two pavilions: the Hall of Prayer mid the Hall of Halberds.
There are numerous other interesting corners of this park he nos popular area lying in tile southwest and featuring attractively decorated covered walks. There is also a hothouse which provides welcome warmth in the freezing winter months.