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Heavenly Peace Temple
2006-03-07 15:37:19

Tianning Si Pagoda
(Photo source:

The Tianning Si, or the temple of heavenly peace,  in downtown Beijing, was built during the reign of Emperor Xiao Wen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). A 60-meter-high pagoda was added to the temple in the Liao Dynasty (907-1125).
Historians say that Tianning, one of the capital's oldest temples, is crucial for research into the city's past.

Located outside Guang'anmen in Beijing, it is one of the earliest tall buildings in the ancient capital, a valuable memento of the Liao Dynasty.

Construction of the pagoda is estimated to have been between 1100 and 1120 towards the end of the Liao Dynasty.

The octagonal pagoda, 57.8 meters tall, was erected on a square platform. The bottom of the pagoda is in the form of a huge Sumeru pedestal, decorated with carved arch patterns. At the corners there are relief sculptures of heavenly guardians accompanied by another level of carved arches. A veranda with banisters and brackets was built around the upper part of the pedestal.

Three layers of huge lotus petals carved on the pedestal support the first storey of the pagoda. On four sides of the first storey, facing the four directions, there are relief sculptures of heavenly guardians and arched gates. Above are thirteen levels of eaves, very close together, with no doors or windows. It is a typical pagoda of the Liao and Kin period.

The eaves diminish in size as they progress upward, giving the pagoda a slight scroll shape.

The octagonal steeple is composed of two layers of lotus petals surmounted by a Sumeru pedestal and a precious bead.

The pagoda is solid, without stairs inside or outside.

The structure and shape of the pagoda have remained the same since it was built, though repairs have been made over the years.

The huge pedestal, the first storey with its relief sculptures, the densely structured thirteen levels of eaves and the magnificent steeple with its precious bead at the top combine to form a beautiful image that integrates light with heavy, long with short, tight with spacious, achieving a highly artistic architectural effect. The later celebrated Chinese architect Liang Sicheng praised the design of the pagoda as having musical rhythm and as being a masterpiece of ancient architectural design.

How to get there: Bus No.9, 40, 42, 46, 47, 212 to Tianning Si

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