The Imperial College is located on the northern
side of Chengxian Street inside the Andingmen Gate. First constructed
in 1306, it served as the imperial college for the Yuan, Ming and
Qing dynasties and was the highest educational institution in imperial
China. Students came here to study the Confucian classics in preparation
for the imperial examinations. The college not only trained and
educated the elite, but also received foreign students from numerous
different countries promoting cross-cultural exchange. The emperor
would also give lectures to ministers and students at the college.
Structurally, the former college is a square pavilion in the middle of a round pool crowned by a golden ball. The college can be reached by crossing the pool on marble bridges. Flanking the structure, were 190 stone tablets engraved with 800,000 words of the 13 classics, which took the calligrapher 12 years to transcribe. These tablets have since been moved to the courtyard east of the main gate. The Imperial College is now the site of the Capital Library.