Zhongshan is an attractive former imperial park located on the south west side of the Forbidden City. Built as an imperial park in 1420, Zhongshan Park opened to the public in 1914 and has been through several politically motivated name changes.
After the hustle and bustle of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, Zhongshan Park is very quiet, low key and relaxing. If you have an hour or so to kill in central Beijing, want to avoid crowds or just want a clean queue free toilet, Zhongshan Park is for you.
There are over 36 pavilions, gardens, halls, gates and imperial temples in Zhongshan Park. The key structures to see are
Alter to the God of Land and Grain
The Alter to the God of Land and Grain (Shejitan) is a 0.96 meter tall square platform made of three layers of green white marble. The soil on the top of the alter has five different colors and stands for the five directions: blue to the east, red to the south, white to the west, black to the north and yellow in the center. The five colored soil symbolized that all land under the sun belongs to the emperor.
Sacrifices were made every lunar February and August y the emperor or the emperor’s representative (early delegation) to pray for good harvest.
Like the park, this hall is named after Dr. Sun Yat-sen and its main claim to fame is it once held the coffin of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Zhong Shan Hall was originally used by the emporers to worship during bad weather. The building itself is reputed to be the intact building of the Ming Dynasty.
Located at the south western end of Zhongshan Park, the Waterside Pavilion has a very serene and relaxing feel and is similar to Suzhou’s classical gardens.
Being so centrally located, there are numerous ways to get there. The easiest is to catch a subway on line one, get off at Tiananmen West station and use the B exit. The entrance to the park will be a few minute walk east on Changan Avenue.