Zhongshan Park is located to the west of
Tian'anmen Rostrum in the heart of the Inner City. It is the
site of the former Altar of Land and Grain.
Entering through the main southern entrance,
one comes to a large vestibular pavilion with long corridors
running off to the east and west. In front of the pavilion
is a white marble memorial archway erected by the Qing government
to commemorate the German Minister Baron von Kettler, who
was killed during the Yihetuan Movement ("Boxer Rebellion")
in 1900. This archway originally stood outside the western
entrance to the Xizongbu Alley, but after Germany's defeat
in World War I, it was removed to the Zhongshan Park and inscribed
with the words "Triumph of Righteousness"(Gongli
Zhansheng). After 1949 it was rein scribed in Guo Moruo's
handwriting with "Defeat the Peace"(Baowei Heping).
To the east stands a beautiful specimen
of Taihu Lake stone known as "a slice of dark clouds,"
which was moved here from Yuanmingyuan. Emperor Qianlong composed
its inscription. There is a peony pond, a wisteria arbor and,
to the north, a grove of cypresses with trees said to have
been planted in the Liao Dynasty (916-1125). Seven of the
trees are so large that it takes three of four persons with
arms outstretched to encircle the trunk. One of the cypresses
on the eastern side is particularly unusual, because a scholar
trees is called "the embrace of the scholar tree and
the cypress." The path that runs through the archway
is lined with umbrella-like scholar trees and verdant pines.
On the southern side of this east-west path
lies a greenhouse with fresh flowers on display all year round.
Included are 39 varieties of tulips presented to the park
in 1977 by the Princess of Holland. The eight "Orchid
Pavilion" stela, standing inside a hall nearby, are engraved
in the hand of Emperor Qianlong with the text of a famous
preface to a collection of poems entitled the Orchid Pavilion.
The Pavilion Where the Rites Are Practiced was moved to the
Zhongshan Park from the Honglu Court, an office which during
the Ming and Qing dynasties. In imperial times all officials
coming to the capital to be received by the emperor for the
first time went first to the Honglu Court to learn the proper
To the south of this path there is also
a display of rare goldfish. Further south, one comes to the
quietest spot in the park, the area of the Lotus Pool, Water-side
Pavilion, Pavilion of Four Contentment and the Pavilion to
Welcome the Sunshine.
On the north side of the path is the Altar
of Land and Grain. Here the landscape is particularly charming.
With the lofty Concert Hall to the east and the Health Education
hall to the west. The area is planted with numerous fruit
trees, herbaceous peonies and green lawns. A wide path through
the center of the lawns leads to the altar.
To the east of the altar is the Pavilion
of the Pines and Cypresses and a tall rockery. Footpaths lead
to secluded nooks and wind their ways to the cross-shaped
Touhu Pavilion, which takes its name from an old game of throwing
arrows into a pot. South of this building lies the Kiosk for
Meeting New Friends (Laijinyuxuan) where refreshments are
To the west of the Altar of Land and Grain
is the liveliest part of the park. Here among a forest of
cypress trees stand artificial hills, thatched pavilions,
a teahouse, a restaurant, a children' s playground and an
To the north of the altar past the Zhongshan
Hall is another copse of cypress trees, among which is a stone
table built of hollow bricks dating from the Han Dynasty.
The classically elegant designs on the old bricks are still
quite distinct. The moat (Tongzihe or Tube River) is also
known as the Imperial River (Yuhe) and is used for ice skating
in the winter and boating during the summer and autumn.
Over 1,000 years ago the site of Zhongshan
Park was the Temple of National Prosperity, which stood in
the northeast suburbs of Yanjing, the Liao Dynasty capital.
Under the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), the name of the temple
was changed to the Temple of Longevity and National Prosperity.
Although no traces of the old buildings remain, the ancient
cypresses planted inside the temple serve as a reminder of
those days. In 1421, the Ming Emperor Yongle built the Altar
of Land and Grain symmetrically opposite the Imperial Ancestral
(Taimiao) Temple, which stands to the east of Tian'anmen Rostrum.
In 1914, the altar was renamed Central Park and opened to
the public on October 10. In 1928, the park was renamed Zhongshan
Park in tribute to the memory of Sun Yat-sen.