Dragon-seeking journey: Let's check in at ten landmarks where dragons said to be hiding!


The dragon, which coexists with civilization, travels with history, and flourishes with China, is a symbol of wisdom, strength, robustness, and majesty. Beijing has a rich historical heritage and is home to many dragons that are famous both at home and abroad. In the Year of the Dragon, how can one miss the opportunity to "Dance with Dragons"? Let's take a stroll along the unique and magnificent central axis, visit the new modern cultural and tourism landmarks, and enjoy the beautiful mountains and waters. Check in at ten scenic spots where "dragons" are found!

1. Beihai Park

How many dragons are there on the Nine-Dragon Wall?

To the west of the Beijing Central Axis is Beihai Park, the oldest and best-preserved imperial garden in China. Here, visitors can enjoy the unique double-sided Nine-Dragon Wall. On either side of the wall are nine panlong (coiled dragon) on each side. These creatures either rise from the sea or swoop down from the sky, leaping and playing with a pearl in the waves and clouds, showing extraordinary momentum, forming a perfect and lifelike picture.

To the west of the Nine-Dragon Wall is the Chanfu Temple, and in front of the temple is the Five-Dragon Pavilion. Five pavilions are connected by stone bridges and white marble balustrades and are scattered across the water like dragons, hence the name "Dragon Pavilion".

2. The Forbidden City

The richest place in the world for dragon motifs

Walking to the center of the Beijing Central Axis, the Forbidden City may be the place with the most dragons in the world! Take Taihe dian (Hall of Supreme Harmony), the largest and most important hall in the Forbidden City, as an example. There are more than 13,000 dragons of various shapes soaring in the hall. From the yellow glazed roof, chiwen is stationed on the ridge. This mythical beast is said to like to swallow fire and to guard against fires. The golden dragons covering the wooden structure are beautiful and colorful in the sunlight, and when it rains, the dragon-shaped chiwen on the base will present the spectacle of "Thousands of Dragons Spitting Water" ... It can be said that from top to bottom, from gold to stone, the presence of dragons is everywhere.

3. The Summer Palace

The dragon has found its nest here

According to feng shui (Chinese geomancy), in ancient times, it was believed that the Summer Palace was located in the most auspicious place in Beijing, near the Yuyuan Mountain. The pavilions, towers, stone bridges, and other structures in the Summer Palace were connected to the earth. The dragon was most likely to live here. In the 20th year of his imperial reign (1755), the Qianlong Emperor prayed for rain at the Guangrun Temple in the Summer Palace. That night, rain fell from the sky. In addition to the mysterious legend, the dragon-shaped ceiling of the Donggongmen (East Palace Gate), the Hexi Caihua (color painting) with golden dragon pattern, and other elements such as dragon and phoenix carvings and dragon-patterned stone carvings add to the fun of "seeking the dragon."

4. Temple of Heaven

The dragon brings good luck, prosperity and success

The Temple of Heaven is the largest existing ancient sacrificial complex for worshiping Heaven in the world. It embodies the ancient Chinese cosmology that Heaven was round and the earth square, along with the awe of nature. As a symbol of the divine right of emperors, it is inevitable that there are a large number of dragon motifs.

The ceiling of Qiniandian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest) is a delicate caisson featuring a central motif adorned with nine gilded dragons. Opposite the caisson ceiling, a round grey-black marble stone, whose surface is a naturally formed dragon and phoenix pattern, called the Dragon and Phoenix Stone. Outside the west wall of the Echo Hall, there is an ancient tree that has withstood more than 500 years of wind and rain. With its green needles and leaves and twisted branches, it looks like nine dragons dancing in the clouds, hence its name "Nine-Dragon Cypress."

5. Xiangshan Park (Fragrant Hills Park)

The dragon lives in the mountains.

The Qinzheng Hall ranks the first of the 28 scenic spots in Xiangshan. It was the place where the Qing emperors dealt with state affairs and received the princes and ministers during their stay at the Jingyi Garden in Xiangshan. The Hexi Caihua in the hall is with golden dragon pattern. Other dragon motifs are everywhere, highlighting the grandeur of the imperial garden.

In the Zhaomiao, located halfway up Xiangshan, the colored glazed tiles and steles are decorated with dragon patterns and carvings, which are brilliant and vivid. In the Xiangshan Temple, which rises up the mountain, exquisite and beautiful dragons are always found in the paintings, carvings, and architectural components.

6. Shichahai

In spite of its depth, a sea is spiritual whenever a dragon dwells there.

Shichahai is an open scenic area with an open water surface in the inner city of Beijing. It is also the largest and best-preserved historical block in Beijing, adjacent to the Beijing Central Axis. A giant dragon lantern called "Jiao Long Hai Chu" (dragon sets sail for the ocean) is on display at Shichahai, with a total length of 202.4 meters, symbolizing "the dragon soars across the land in 2024". It combines traditional lantern art with modern technology and lighting effects. The shape of the lantern is domineering, especially the long whiskers on the golden-red dragon's head, which are lifelike.

7. National Bobsleigh and Luge Center

The dragon soars in the sky

The National Sliding Center is the first and only bobsleigh and luge track in China that meets the standards of the Winter Olympics. It hosted all three events during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics: bobsleigh, skeleton, and luge. The track is 1,975 meters long and has a height difference of 121 meters. It is built on a mountain ridge and resembles a sleeping dragon. The design of the "Snow Dragon" is inspired by the traditional Chinese cultural element Ruyi (which means "as desired", is a Chinese curved decorative object), which means good luck and good fortune.

8. Tian'anmen

Tian'anmen is located at the intersection of the Beijing Central Axis and Chang'an Jie (St). It was the main gate of the imperial city during the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are a pair of white marble columns in front and behind Tian'anmen, called huabiao or "wangzhu", with stone hou (treading dragons) squatting on them, and the columns are carved with dragons and clouds. The stone animal facing outward is called Wangjungui (meaning "hope you return"), which means that the emperor should not stay out for too long when he goes out to have fun and should return to the palace quickly to take care of state affairs. The other stone animal facing inward is called Wangjunchu (meaning "hope you get out"), which means that the emperor is expected to leave the palace and try to understand the suffering of the people. They, together with the stone lions in front of Tian'anmen and the Jinshui Bridge on both sides, set off the majesty of the imperial city of Beijing.

9. Chinese Archaeological Museum

The "Best" of the Dragon Culture Exhibition

The Chinese Archaeological Museum is located in the core area of the Beijing Olympic Park. It is based on archaeological artifacts and precious ancient books and documents, creating a historical and cultural living room on the Beijing Central Axis and a national window for displaying Chinese civilization.

In 2024, the Chinese Archaeological Museum joined forces with 22 other archaeological and cultural institutions to present an exhibition of Chinese dragon culture artifacts from the past 8,000 years. Among the exhibits is the outstanding representative of the Erlitou culture, the turquoise dragon-shaped vessel, which is composed of more than 2,000 small turquoise pieces of various shapes, vivid in appearance and colorful in color. The scale of its production, the precision of its craftsmanship and the size of the piece are rare among early Chinese dragon artifacts, and it is a key link in the evolution of the Chinese dragon image.

10. Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchange Center Cultural Space

An exhibition that brings together modern zodiac dragon art

On East Chang'an Jie (St), there is a comprehensive international cultural and tourism exchange space worth exploring and experiencing: the Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchange Center. The center is a public institution affiliated with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, engages in intercultural exchanges with China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Macao SAR, and Taiwan province as well as foreign countries.

Currently, the exhibition Auspicious Year After Year - Global Zodiac Design Competition Invitational Exhibition (Year of the Dragon) is on display at the space. Visitors can enjoy the outstanding zodiac award-winning works from this year's competition and previous competitions, as well as the zodiac art works of domestic artists, as well as foreign sculptors. The exhibition combines the Chinese zodiac dragon with contemporary innovative design, highlighting the profound charm of Chinese zodiac culture in a youthful, fashionable and international way.

In the Year of the Dragon, we welcome everyone to Beijing, a city full of the flavor of the dragon, to embark on a sincere "dragon-seeking journey" and experience the unique charm of Beijing's traditional culture!