Fayuan Temple is situated in Fayuansiqian Street, Xuanwu District of Beijing. It is the oldest extant temple in Beijing. In 1983, it was designated as one of national key temples in the areas of the Han nationality. Now, it is the site of the Chinese Buddhist Academy.
Fayuan Temple was built in the 19th year (645) of the Zhenguan reign of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) by Li Shiming (Tang Emperor Taizong) to commemorate officers and soldiers dead in battles. In the 12thyear of the Yongzheng reign of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), it was designated as the Vinaya Sect's place where the Buddhist rites were performed, and renamed as Fayuan Temple. In 1956, the Chinese Buddhist Academy was founded here. In 1963, the conference of Buddhists from eleven Asian countries and regions was held here. In 1980, the Buddhist Books and Culture Relics Museum of China was built here, and in the same year the Statue of Master Jianzhen was displayed here after returning from overseas exhibition. The temple has gradually become one of research centers for Buddhist culture and Buddhism.
Fayuan Temple covers an area of 6,700 square meters. It has a compact overall arrangement and buildings are arranged along the medial axis symmetrically. Main buildings there include the Gate of Temple, Heavenly King Hall, Main Hall, Hall of Great Compassion, Sutra Hall, and Bell and Drum Towers. On both left and right sides of the Gate of Temple stand the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower respectively. The Main Hall, which is magnificent and sacred, houses Statues of Flower Adornment School's three saints: Vairocana Buddha, Manjusri, and Samantabhadra. The Hall of Great Compassion houses statues, carved stones, and artistic masterpieces. Among these statues there stand the oldest statue in China -- Pottery Statue of Sitting Buddha of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220), Pottery-bottle Statue of Buddha of the Eastern Wu Dynasty (229-280), Stone Statue of Buddha of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and Steel-cast Statue of Kwan-yin, etc. They are all rare cultural relics. Moreover, it also exhibits Buddhist scriptures, statues, and cultural relics presented by various countries.
The ambience in Fayuan Temple is quiet and secluded, and there stand a large number of ancient trees, including gingko trees and clove trees as well as two Malus micromalus Makino planted by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Fayuan Temple is also famous for its clove trees and Malus micromalus Makino.
Fayuan Temple is now not only a famous old temple with a history of one thousand years, but also the highest academy of higher education for Chinese Buddhism as well as an exhibition center for Buddhist cultural relics. Each year it attracts a large number of Buddhist scholars and Buddhists from home and abroad.