Jingshan (literally "Prospect Hill", also known as Coal Hill) Park is located across the street from the exit of the Forbidden City. The Park was a part of the Forbidden City until the early 1900's when the walls were pulled down and a road cut through it destroying several gates and buildings between the park and the rear entrance of the palace.
Just north of the Imperial Palace, the site occupied by Prospect Hill was a private park reserved for the use of the emperor in the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). During the Ming (1368-1644), an artificial hill with five peaks was made, utilizing earth excavated when the moat of the Imperial Palace was dug.
A pavilion was erected on each peak, and five bronze Buddhas given pride of place in them. Four of the statues were removed by the troops of the Allied Expeditionary Force when they came to Beijing to relieve the Siege of the Legations in 1900. Prospect Hill was opened to the public in 1928.
There is an old but fallacious story that an emperor kept supplies of coal hidden under the hill, hence its other name, Coal Hill (Meishan).
The artificial hill in Jingshan Park used to be the highest point in the city. The park is nice to walk around but what really makes it great is that the temple at the top of the hill, the Pavilion of Everlasting Spring (Wanchunting), affords panoramic views over Beijing and the Forbidden City.
To the north lie the Drum and Bell Towers, another traditional icon of old Beijing. To the northwest, the two bodies of water of Shichahai and Beihai Lakes are intersected by Dianmen Dajie. To the south, the golden roofs of the Imperial Palace can be seen stretching into the distance.
It takes about 10 minutes to walk up to the pavilion. The climb is easy with plenty of shade and handrails, but there are a fair few steps involved. However, it is well worth the climb on a clear day to get photos of the panorama.
The temple at the top of the hill can be quite crowded, particularly at sunset on a clear day when many Chinese photographers try to catch the last rays of light falling on the rooftops of the Forbidden City.(Starting from October 2, 2017, all visitors to the Forbidden City must book their tickets online. Find out how to book tickets to the Forbidden City >>)
After taking in the view, if you have more time, walk back down and towards the middle of the park where you will usually come across lots of groups of elderly Chinese people singing opera, doing tai chi or going through their daily calisthenics routine!
Recommended Time for Visit: 0.5 hr
Admission Fee: CNY 2
Opening Hours: 06:00 - 21:00 (April to October), 06:30 - 20:00 (November to March)