Despite being a massive, modern city of over six million people, Hangzhou still features a large number of ancient-style temples and pagodas where visitors feel as if they’re stepping back into the China of old. Here are a few not to be missed.
This fourth-century temple, also known as the Temple of Soul’s Retreat, ranks among the most important Chinese Zen Buddhist shrines. Lingyin is perhaps best known for the 300 statues that monks and other artists carved over the centuries from the rocks and grottoes of the neighboring Peak Flown from Afar.
Six Harmonies Pagoda
Situated southwest of the UNESCO World Heritage–listed West Lake (Xihu), Six Harmonies Pagoda (aka Liuhe Pagoda) is an octagonal structure first constructed in the 10th century. It once served as a lighthouse for vessels on the Qiantang River. Today a narrow staircase leads to a viewing area affording excellent views of the surrounding area.
Some of the best views over West Lake are from the top of the golden-spired Leifeng Pagoda. Originally built in the 10th century, the five-story, eight-sided pagoda has been modernized with conveniences like an elevator to the top of the tower.
While not as well known as Lingyin, this 10th-century Zen Buddhist temple has been fully restored to its original splendor, complete with a forged copper bell and carvings of the 68,000 characters of the Lotus Sutra on its facade. A massive seated statue of Buddha sits within the Great Treasure Hall.