TEMPLES IN BEIJING
The best thing about traveling with family and/or friends is being able to disagree on what was the best temple you saw. That makes each and every temple the most beautiful and breathtaking, and proves once again, that beauty is indeed in the eyes of the beholder. So here is the list of temples in no particular order (as we couldn't agree among ourselves which was our number one).
TEMPLE OF HEAVEN
This temple dates back to the XV century and it was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is now open to the public as a park. The temple is divided by two encircling walls into inner and outer part. To get to the magnificent buildings such as Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvest that are in the inner part, you will slowly ascend through the Tiantan park (symbolically ascending to heaven). It is wonderful watching local residents practice Tai Chi, write calligraphy, play games, or just sit and talk. When here, you should walk from the park, across the bridge to a small shopping mall with the best hot pot, and then over to the Pearl Market for some wonderful jewellery and unforgettable gifts. Be ready to haggle.
TEMPLE OF CONFUCIUS
It's a great place to learn more about the famous philosopher, and it is never too crowded so you can enjoy it at your own pace, and focus on the praying wheels. It is not a must visit, but it is nice if you have some extra time.
This temple, also known as Harmony and Peace Temple Lamasery, is a must visit, regardless how little time you may or may not have in Beijing. That is, only if you love incense and color. If, however, you are afraid of smoke and fire, like some kids who shall not be named here, well then it's not gonna be much fun for you, so feel free to skip. This is a very active temple where you can get your prayers in through incense and the praying wheel. Incense holds an invaluable role in East Asian Buddhist ceremonies, and it seems like one of the customs I could easily adopt.