This monastery has been mostly in a state of disrepair since the Qing Dynasty, and then almost destroyed in 1966 during the cultural revolution, with only a few buildings of interest preserved. The monastery has an usual layout, with the pagoda and bell tower side by side instead of symmetrically placed along a central axis.

Xumi Pagoda

The Tang Dynasty Xumi Pagoda stands tall above the surrounding buildings. I was intrigued by its square shaped base and only gently tapering walls, quite different to other pagodas in China.

Rather than the standard wooden roof structures brightly painted and decorated, instead the Xumi Pagoda just has 13 layers of brick eaves in a very simple style.

Around the base of the pagoda, I loved the small carvings of the heavenly kings decorating the corners.

Bell Tower

Now empty, this Eastern Wei Dynasty building (later renovated during the Tang Dynasty) is the only Tang Dynasty Bell Tower still standing


This sculpture of the mythical tortoise-like dragon is the largest in China and once would have supported a stele similar to those we have spotted in most temples around the country. It dates from the Tang Dynasty and was dug up from a nearby street.

(Photo courtesy of Baidu since when we visited it was sadly partially covered up for restoration work)

Sanmen Pavilion

This Tang Dynasty Pavilion has been carefully re-erected to give an idea of its original grandeur.

The Kaiyuan Monastery was worth the visit since we were passing anyway, but unless you're a massive Tang Dynasty fan I personally wouldn't put it on a must-see list. It did keep us entertained for half an hour or so, and if they tidied up the grounds a bit (there was a lot of work going on when we visited) to add some more greenery and shade I could probably have stayed longer.


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