china edition


Museum of Ancient Architecture

This exhibition, a mixture of models of China's most famous architecture and fragments of buildings long disappeared, is housed in halls as dramatic as those on the central axis of the Forbidden City. These were once part of the Xian Nong Tan, or Altar of Agriculture, now as obscure as its neighbor, the Temple of Heaven, is famous.

From about 1410, emperors came to this once-extensive site to perform rituals in which they started the agricultural cycle by playing farmer and plowing the first furrows.

The exhibition in the surviving halls is striking in its extensive English explanations of everything from the construction of the complicated bracket sets, which support temple roofs, to the role of geomancy in Chinese architectural thinking.

Models of significant buildings around Beijing can help you select what to see in the capital during the remainder of your trip.

The rearmost Taisui Dian (Hall of Jupiter) of 1532, with its vast, sweeping roof, is only exceeded in magnificence by the Forbidden City's Hall of Supreme Harmony.