A short distance from the Imperial College and the Temple of Confucius, is a place that was, for a long time, the spiritual centre of the capital - Yonghe Gong, also known as the Lama Temple. It was a convent, built in the XVII Century at the behest of Emperor Kangxi. This sovereign is responsible for the construction of this unique place, where Tibetan Buddhism blends with Mongolian furnishings and Chinese architecture. A blend of cultures which is also present in the numerous inscriptions throughout the Temple, written in Chinese, Mongolian, Tibetan and Manchurian. In a whirlwind of sculpted walls featuring bas reliefs, halls rich with statues, arches decorated in the Imperial colour (yellow) and magnificent buildings looming over five different courtyards, finally, there is the Palace of Ten-Thousand Pleasures, the largest building on the convent’s grounds, heart of this sacred place. It is here that the majestic statue of Maitreya sits, 26 metres high, 8 of which are underground, all cut from a single trunk of white sandal wood. With a diameter of 8 metres and a total weight of 100 tons, even today, it remains the largest statue cut from a single tree trunk, attested to by none other than the Guinness Book of World Records. But the sculpture is not only impressive because of its size - the handiwork behind it is equally breathtaking with the refined techniques of great masters from long ago.