The renowned North Temple Pagoda, also referred to as Bao’en Temple Pagoda, has the distinction of being Suzhou’s oldest existing Buddhist shrine. This temple, with a legacy stretching back 1,700 years is thought to have been initially created by Wu State’s Emperor Sun Quan at the time of the Three Kingdom Period.
Interestingly this lofty pagoda is also the tallest in Suzhou, rising to an imposing height of no less than 76 metres. The building is considered to depict the same architectural motifs as Hangzhou’s Six Harmonious Pagoda. The appearance of the building is typical of a Chinese Buddhist temple and features nine storeys, each having eight sides. The body of North Temple Pagoda features an inner cloister and outer cloister as well as a square central room.
The building is constructed principally of wood and brick; the external walls and base are composed of brick while the balustrades and foundation are fashioned of stone. Every storey has surrounding eaves, banisters and balconies, all composed of wood. As each level is smaller than the storey below, the entire structure with its distinctive upswept eaves forms an unmistakable elegantly pyramidal structure. Inside, each storey is airy and spacious, presenting a tranquil ambience. The lofty steeple which stands majestically atop the edifice is composed of metal. During renovations in years past, valuable artifacts such as a Buddha statue, other Buddhist objects and a copper turtle were recovered from the pagoda’s steeple.
Visitors may take the opportunity to ascend the inner cloister’s wooden stairway and obtain a panoramic view over the city and the hills, water features and rural vistas in the distance. You will also see some handsomely preserved Qing and Ming Dynasty era constructions in the vicinity of the temple, including the splendid Guanyin Palace which is the locale’s best preserved Ming era edifice. Towards the north of this palace you will see a corridor featuring the biggest lacquer carving in the whole of China.
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