Hidden in the Xicheng district of Beijing, right beside a huge factory chimney, is the ancient Tianning Temple. This structure was built in 1100, during the Liao Dynasty, making it 920 years old at the time of these photos, one of the oldest in town. The pagoda is solid and unlike many others of its kind it does not have stairs to take you to the top. After surviving centuries, many similar pagodas were torn down in the 20th century, like the older Qingshou Temple twin towers that were destroyed in 1954 so Chang An avenue could be expanded.
The octagonal pagoda, 57.8 meters tall, was erected on a square platform. The bottom of the pagoda is in the form of a huge Sumeru pedestal, decorated with carved arch patterns. At the corners there are relief sculptures of heavenly guardians accompanied by another level of carved arches. A veranda with banisters and brackets was built around the upper part of the pedestal.
Originally, in this same location there used to be another temple, built during the Sui Dynasty (589 - 618), and was considered at the time one of the most important of China. Legend says that he built 30 temples, one for each province of China, to keep relics of the Buddha. Some believe they still lie beneath the Tianning Temple to this day.