How many temples are there in the capital, Beijng? No exact figure can be given, but one poetic line seems appropriate, "four hundred and eighty temples existed in the Southern Dynasties, and many more towers were shrouded in smoke and rain." Only the time has changed and no perennial rain prevails in Beijing.
Temples are religious products where the Buddhist patriarch, Bodhisattvas, deities and demons, God and Holy Mother emerge. The rise and fall of every temple has left historical imprints of its existence as rich and colorful as a man's life. Like the elderly people, every temple is relating past grandeur and changes and revealing the antiquity and mystery till today.
I first went to visit a church. I wanted to seek evidence of the Catholic priests' crimes of aggression. However, standing in front of the crucifix high above the church, I felt that the happenings in the past were not God's fault and I could only find this cathedral possessing exotic features. Its main building is a rectangular hall with a remarkable pulpit. More gorgeous in appearance is the Catholic North Cathedral with tall and erect pillars and pinnacles. Before I entered the gate, an exotic flavor of God and Holy Mother greeted me. In the capital, I also visited the Catholic South Church and a Protestant Church Chong Wen Men Hall, both in a good state of preservation, now places for friendly contacts between the Chinese and other peoples of the world.
Also conveying a sense of exoticism are the mosques. However, most of them are quadrangular buildings with only the minaret reminding their association with Mecca and the Arabian countries in the Middle East. I have read the novel "Muslemic Funeral Ceremony" and tasted the Muslemic cakes. I would like to know Allah beter but I was refused admitting to the mosque several times and only allowed to take some photos from outside, because I am not a Muslim. Fortunately, I unintentionally intruded into a Muslim food store, where I had a gourmet's luck and tasted some of the essence of Koran. The beef was particularly impressive.
There are some other mosques in the municipal districts, that at Dong Si being the largest and that at Niu Street also rather famous. Smaller mosques, such as those at Xin Kai Hutong and Ma Dian, are mostly quadrangular architecture, all gathering places for neighboring Muslims to hold religious ceremonies. Quite extraordinary is that all their praying halls face east so that the Muslims, after entering the gate, can pray in the direction of their sacred land Mecca. All these mosques are well preserved.