Buddhism has been part of Chinese culture since ancient times. Over the millennia it Chinese Buddhism absorbed ideas from Confucianism and Taoism. Today there are an estimated 660 million to 1 billion Buddhists in China but it is difficult to determine exactly because many do not belong to registered congregations. Many people practice both Buddhism and Taoism.



For over 5,000 years in China, the philosophy and religion of Taoism (or Daoism) has shaped Chinese culture and forms the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Over time Taoism has absorbed the ancient cultural elements of yin and yang, Feng Shui (used to improve energy flow in interior design) and I Ching (the Chinese zodiac).


Christianity has existed in China since the 7th century, and today is a growing minority religion including Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians. China loosened religious restrictions in the 1970s and now Chinese citizens over 18 are allowed to participate in official Christian meetings. There are also unregistered house church meetings.


Islam came to China in the 7th century as a result of trade between China and the Middle East along the Silk Road. Today, of China’s 56 officially recognized minority groups, 10 are predominantly Muslim. Many of the Moslems in China live in areas that border Central Asia, Tibet and Mongolia.


(buddhist statue)

Within the city and in the area surrounding Beijing exist a wealth of historic and often spectacular temples. Some temples are Buddhist, others Taoist, Confucian or Tibetan. The most famous are the Temple of Heaven and the Lama Temple, but there are hundreds scattered throughout the city.


The largest and most famous of the 80 mosques in Beijing is the Niujie (Ox Street) Mosque in Xuanwu District. After centuries of architectural adaptation the mosque now looks similar to a temple.


The oldest existing cathedral in Beijing is the Southern Cathedral (Nantang) in Xicheng District which was built on the ruins of the original cathedral from 1652. Catholic churches are officially independent from the Roman Catholic Church.