Hidden among the concrete and glass jungle of Beijing’s CBD is this intriguing temple, once the most important place of Taoist worship in Beijing. Dongyue Temple was built mainly at the beginning of the 14th Century with the patronage of the Yuan emperors. What differentiates the Dongyue Temple from its ilk is the array of sinister statues that run a ring around the complex, housed in their own ‘departments’. There is the Final Indictment Department and the Department for Implementing 15 Kinds of Violent Death, while less threatening shrines include the Department of Flying Birds and the Department of Pity and Sympathy. Looking at the figures in each department and reading the English explanation is an absorbing experience. Dongyue Temple is also home to the biggest collection of ancient stone tablets in Beijing. Some date back as far as the early 14th Century and feature calligraphy and are topped with beautifully intricate designs. Meanwhile, the larger halls in the sprawling complex pay tribute to various Taoist deities with the main hall housing a six meter statue of the god of Tai Mountain, Dong Yue himself. Most of the halls and tablets are more or less in their original form. But many of the statues were completely destroyed post-revolution, when the temple lay dormant until its reopening in 1999, and were restored for that occasion. Dongyue temple is especially vibrant during the spring and autumn festivals when large celebrations take place here.
Admission: ¥10. Open: Tues-Sun 8:30-16:30.
Address: 141 Chaoyangmenwai Dajie. Tel: +86 (010) 6551 0151. Website: www.dym.com.cn
Directions: Dongyue Temple is 10-15 minutes walk directly east from Chaoyangmen subway station along Chaoyangmenwai Dajie.
Show the taxi driver: 请带我去东岳庙，谢谢。地址：朝阳门外大街141号。 (Please take me to Dongyue Temple. Thank you.)