Spending a full day with a knowledgeable guide is a wonderful opportunity to explore the wealth of religions and philosophies of this culturally diverse city and you’ll begin your day early in the morning with a visit to the Temple of Heaven. Popular with Beijing residents, the park fills every morning with locals who come to practice Tai Chi, Kung Fu, gymnastics and other forms of exercise. You may even catch people creating beautiful works of calligraphy on the stones with water. The temple has a deep symbolism, belied by its simple structure, and you’ll hear how ancient emperors believed themselves to be messengers from god, a belief structure that predates Buddhism and Taoism.

From here you’ll continue on to the 8th century Taoist White Cloud Temple which houses sculptures representing the 12 signs of the Chinese Zodiac. Spend a little time observing the worshippers who come to rub the sculptures, and learn about the Taoist beliefs. You’ll leave this traditional Chinese philosophy behind to visit the city’s mosque, an intriguing blend of Islamic and Chinese architectural styles that reflect a religion brought to the country by Central Asian traders.

The afternoon is dedicated to the Buddhist and Confucian traditions, beginning with a walk through the Yonghegong Lama Temple. Marvel at the 18-metre high statue of the Buddha, carved from a single piece of wood, and explore the philosophies of Tibetan and Inner-Mongolian Buddhism. You’ll discover Confucianism as you tour the Temple of Confucius and learn how the teachings of one man had such an impact on Imperial China, and continue to influence the country today.

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