Built in 1420, the Working People’s Cultural Palace was once the Imperial Ancestral Temple in the Ming and Qing dynasties. It houses three great halls, including the ominously named Sacrificial Hall, with yellow-roof imperial architecture. When a new emperor ascended the throne or battles were won it was here that grand ceremonies to worship and give thanks would take place.
In 1949 the temple was renamed by Chairman Mao (see the inscription in his own hand on the South Gate) and the buildings have been converted to make home for a public library, a theatre and an exhibition hall. Over the last 60 years it has been a center for the Communist Party and the state to host important political, economic and cultural events, both domestic and international.
Lying just East of the Forbidden City, the Cultural Palace is far less frequented by tourists than it’s famous neighbour. However, its own historical significance, grand buildings and pretty gardens and make it a place worth visiting to soak up the atmosphere of imperial Beijing without all the bustling crowds.