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POPULAR TIMESWeekends; evenings
RESERVE IN ADVANCENo
WAIT TIME WITHOUT RESERVATIONNone
HIGHLIGHTSAltar to the Sun; Stone Boat Bar
From its construction in the 16th century to the end of imperial reign in the 20th, Ritan (which translates as the Temple of the Sun) was the place where Ming and Qing Dynasty emperors came for reflection, meditation, and carrying out ceremonial rituals and sacrifices to the gods. The elegant scarlet temples and the broad marble sacrificial altar still remain, as do ancient pine and cypress trees and a landscaped chain of rockeries and ponds. Despite the rapid growth of the surrounding Business District and the addition of a mod family-friendly leisure center, the park remains one of the most peaceful in the city, a spot where locals come to practice tai chi or try their hand at fishing in the ponds.
GO HERE WITH
A date; a friend; family; kids
WHY WE LIKE IT
It’s a surprisingly tranquil spot in the heart of the go-go-go Business District. We like climbing to the top of the rock gardens to get an ancient-meets-modern view of skyscrapers towering over the delicate pavilions. The Stone Boat Bar in the south of the park is a lovely spot for a scenic drink, while in the north of the park, the roof terrace at Xiao Wang Fu is good for tasty homestyle eats in an atmospheric setting.
WHAT WE WOULD CHANGE
Newer additions to the park, like the amusement park, detract from the graceful scenery and peaceful atmosphere.
GOOD TO KNOW
In ancient days, at the four cardinal directions of the city were temples paying homage to various cosmic/spiritual elements. Ritan is the temple to the east dedicated to the sun, Tiantan to the south for the heavens, Yuetan to the west for the moon, and Ditan to the north for the earth. This is a great place to take kids–Ritan’s offerings for the pint-sized set range from an amusement park and mini golf to a climbing wall and a children’s fishing center.
Temple of Heaven (Tiantan) (Beijing)
Read more about Ritan Park in The Diary
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