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Guozijian (The Imperial College)


Beijing Guozijian is located at Guozijian Street (originally named Chengxian Street), Andingmennei Street of Dongcheng District. Chinese scholar trees line on both sides of the street. Four colorfully painted archways stand each at the east and west ends  of the street and the two sides of the gate of Guozijian. Guozijian Street is Beijing's only existing street of ancient architectural style.





Situated in the central street and adjoining the Confucius Temple, the structure of Guozijian accords with the tradition “Temple on the left, college on the right.” To the east the building faces Yonghegong Temple, the biggest Lama Temple in Beijing. Guozijian is a famous cultural and historical site in Beijing.



Beijing Guozijian was the highest seat of learning and education-supervising administrative organ in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties of the ancient China. It was first built in the 24th year of Zhiyuan Reign of the Yuan Dynasty, and was renovated on a large scale during Yongle and Zhengtong reigns of the Ming Dynasty. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty, it was added with Biyong (the hall where emperors gave lectures), the East and West Stele Pavilions, the Glazed Archway and so on. The whole complex of Guozijian faces south, and along its central axis are Jixian Gate (the front gate), Taixue Gate (the second gate), the Glazed Archway, Biyong, Yiluntang (Hall of Sacrifice of Ethics) and Jingyiting (Jingyi Pavilion). On its east and west sides are the six halls in the traditional symmetrical layout. With a total building area of more than 10,000 square meters, Guozijian is now the only existing architecture of state-sponsored ancient highest academy.



The administrative officials of Guozijian were called Jijiu (the chief), Siye (Dean of Studies) and Jiancheng etc. Teachers were called Boshi (or called Jiaoshou in Chinese, professor in English), Zhujiao (professor assistant) and so on. Students who studied in Guozijian were called Jiansheng, and they mainly studied Confucian classics. Besides Han, Man, Meng, Hui nationalities students, Guozijian also received foreign students from Korea, Japan, Russia, Vietnam and other countries. In its northwestern corner a “Ryukyu College” was set up specially as the place where students from Ryukyu (today's Okinawa in Japan) studied and lived. Outside Guozijian there were “Jiaozhi House” (the residence for students from Jiaozhi, today's Vietnam) and “Russia College”. All these played an important role in fostering talents of various nationalities in China and in promoting the cultural exchange between China and in promoting the cultural exchange between China and foreign countries.



According to the original building concept, the Confucian Temple, in memory of the education advocator Confucius, was situated on the east of Guozijian; to the west was “Archery Range” for the practice of archery; to the south was “Southern College”. All the above formed the complex called Guozijian. This shows a traditional Chinese spirit: respecting teachers and stressing education, learning knowledge and practicing military arts. Hundreds of dormitories for Jiansheng (students in the imperial college) were distributed around Guozijian. There were also the Memorial Temple for Han Yu (a famous poet and writer in ancient China), the Land God Temple and other additional buildings, and thus an integrated teaching area came into being. But today residential areas replace the then “Archery Range”, “Southern College”, the Memorial Temple for Han Yu and The Land God Temple. Whereas the main buildings of Guozijian are well preserved. In the compound of Guozijian three courtyards lie from south to north in perfect order. Dotted with green ancient trees, the whole scenery looks majestic with its magnificent halls. In summer, the dense shade of the trees protects the complex from the sun; in winter, a white quiet snow covering dress the compound up into a fairyland. Guozijian, with its quietness and elegance, long history and unique architectural style and with its profound cultural background, is an ideal spot for sightseeing and appreciating antiquity.