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A walk through local Beijing culture at Taoranting Park

By Bruce Connolly | | Updated: 2021-10-14 14:00
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A pavilion alongside West Lake of Taoranting Park. [Photo by Bruce Connolly/]

Beijing is a multifaceted city with many contrasts. But where is the vibrant local culture I once knew in my earlier days? Can it still exist in such a rapidly modernizing city with its high-rise central business district or increasingly fast-moving lifestyle areas such as Sanlitun and much more?

In fact, Beijing has managed to successfully combine such contrasting elements, making it a very interesting city both to live in or visit.

I regularly go out with my camera to walk and explore areas, some previously unfamiliar but also others which elicit very fond memories.

Recently I headed south to Taoranting Park, west of the Yongdingmen Gate, within what had been the outer city of historic Beijing. A park of extensive lakes, gardens, hills and semiforested areas, Taoranting offers a perfect location to appreciate local culture including various forms of morning exercise.

Close to where the city walls once ran, the park was actually created in 1952. Its name meaning "Joyous Pavilion" refers to the former Temple of Mercy which once stood within its grounds. Historically, the area was one of the few outdoor spaces in the city renowned for the poets, scholars and writers who would gather there for inspiration and discussion.

The park also has fascinating examples of traditional courtyard homes from locations across China.

At Taoranting many people head from their homes early in the morning, often for group activities including singing, dancing, exercising and much more. The vibrancy really reminded me of those formative moments when I first discovered the city.

Beijing is truly a city truly combining modernity with long-standing traditions.

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