Wanshou Temple: Spiritual Landmark of Beijing

Located in the capital of China, Wanshou Temple is one of the most important temples and structures in Beijing. The temple is one of the spiritual landmarks of the Buddhist world and is on the National Heritage List of the country as well. Aside from its importance, it is also one of the largest temple complexes in the world with an area of more than 30,000 square meters. Wanshou Temple goes back to the 16th century and the Ming Dynasty. The primary service of the temple at the beginning was just to store the most important Buddhist scriptures. However, after some time passed, the temple became home to festivals and celebrations which the royal family attended as well.

Wanshou Temple

The temple consists of seven courtyards, some of which belong to different dynasties. The main courtyard, where the buildings are the most, is divided into 4 sides of the compass. While the West area served as the Qing Palace, the East area was the home of the monks. Furthermore, one of the main attractions of Wanshou Temple is the collection of ancient and medieval Buddha statues and carvings. The Chinese also believe that the temple once housed a 5-meter-tall gold Buddha statue as well which is now gone.

Wanshou Temple door

Moreover, Wanshou Temple is home to the Beijing Art Museum which opened in 1987. The museum has over 70,000 items dating back to various dynasties and centuries. Some of the items, especially bronze and jade articles, even go back as far as thousands of years ago as well. After 5 years of renovation, the museum once again opened its doors to visitors in 2022.

Wanshou Temple walls

Wanshou means “longevity” as some people also call Wanshou Temple the Temple of Longevity. This name comes from Wanshou Hill in Beijing on which the Imperial Summer Palace is built. Emperor Qianlong gave the hill this name to celebrate his mother’s birthday and represent the longevity of his rule. Since the temple also housed imperial celebrations, the royal family thought it would be fitting that the temple celebrated its longevity as well.

Wanshou Temple gate
Wanshou Temple motifs
Wanshou Temple red walls
the complex gate
the complex carvings
the complex stones