PLACES OF WORSHIP

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1. Confucius Temple (Kong Miao)

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An enormous complex of wooden halls and flagstoned courtyards, the Confucius Temple is popular with visitors and pays testament to the revival of Confucian ethics in modern China. A museum inside the temple holds artifacts of the Imperial civil service exams, and Confucian texts.

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Pavilion in the Confucius Temple

2. South Cathedral

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Officially known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, this was the first Catholic house of worship in Beijing. It is the largest functioning church, and has regular services in a variety of languages including Mandarin, English and Latin. Service times are posted on the noticeboard.

3. St. Joseph’s Church

prac_info 74 Wangfujing Dajie • 6524 0634 • Subway: Dengshikou

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Also known as the East Cathedral, this is a 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. Mass is held in English on Sundays at 4pm.

4. Wanshou Temple

prac_info Xisanhuan Lu, on the north side of Zizhu Qiao Bridge • 6842 3565 • Subway: Xizhi Men, then bus 300, 360, or 361 • Open 9am–4pm Tue–Sun • Adm

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In the northwest Haidian District, the Wanshou (Longevity) Temple is worth a stop en route to the Summer Palace. 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.

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Incense burner at Wanshou Temple

5. White Cloud Temple

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Founded in AD 739, this 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.

6. North Cathedral

prac_info 33 Xishiku Dajie • Subway: Xisi

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The white-trimmed blue facade of this cathedral, a twin-towered piece of Gothic confectionery, masks a bloody past: not long after the Jesuits finished the church in 1889, it came under siege during the Boxer Rebellion. Many of the congregation sheltering inside were killed.

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Facade of the Gothic North Cathedral

7. Niu Jie Mosque

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There are about 200,000 Muslims in Beijing. The majority live in the Niu Jie District, which is a busy area with halal butchers, bakers, and restaurants. The mosque is the city’s oldest and largest Islamic place of worship. Despite being over 1,000 years old, the mosque looks splendid, having been renovated to the tune of $2.4 million.

8. Fayuan Temple

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

9. St. Michael’s Church

prac_info 13 Dong Jiao Min Xiang • 6513 5170 • Subway: Chongwen Men

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This is one of the city’s lesser-known churches, hidden away in the old Legation Quarter. It was built in 1901, with three Gothic spires, 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.

10. Lama Temple

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One of the most notable centers of Buddhism outside Tibet until it was shut down during the Cultural Revolution, this temple was reputedly saved from destruction by the intervention of the then president, Zhou Enlai. The precincts are home to around 70 monks.

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Gilded statues at the Lama Temple, an important Buddhist center

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