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Qionghua Isle

Qionghua Isle is a man-made "celestial hill" that figures most prominently in the Beihai Park. South of the isle stands a group of buildings that belong to the Yong'an Monastery, a Buddhist establishment. A stone bridge and the Archway of Piled Clouds and Accumulated Verdure provide access to an array of halls arranged from the foot of the hill to the top. The White Pagoda, built in 1651, or the eighth year of the Shunzhi Reign of the Qing Dynasty, stands 35.9 meters high atop the hill. A 30-metre-tall pillar is erected inside the pagoda, and the gold box at the top of the pagoda contains two Buddhist sariras. As a Lamaist pagoda, it stands out with a bronze canopy and a gilded flaming pearl. Standing atop the hill, the pagoda has become the center of the surrounding scenery, and it also plays its role as a beacon tower.

The Qionghua Isle is studded with scenic spots. The Yong'an Monastery is open to tourists and pilgrims alike. On the eastern slope stands a walled-in city in the shape of crescent moon. Hence the name, Crescent Moon City. On the western slope is the Pavilion of Ancient Scriptures, which is enshrined with the famous "Sanxitang Copybook", 495 calligraphic stone inscriptions which cover almost all the ancient forms of Chinese calligraphy. On the northern slope is the sculpture of a bronze angel holding a plate containing morning dew. It is said that by drinking the dew contained in this plate one can achieve immortality.

The view around the White Pagoda changes with the season. On the Qionghua Isle stands a stone tablet, which is inscribed in Emperor Qianlong's calligraphy with a text that recounts the Beihai Lake as one of the "Eight Major Scenes of the Capital of Yan". When the sun sets, half of the White Pagoda is bathed in the golden rays of the sun, while the other half gleams a bluish sheen under the blue sky.

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