Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre – Zhengzhou, China - Atlas Obscura

Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre

A magical work of architecture where a wind turbine enables monks to levitate. 


One of the newest additions to China’s historic Shaolin Monastery, one of the world’s largest schools of Buddhism and Kung Fu, is a massive, wind-spinning levitation machine. The contraption provides monks with the optimal spiritual experience: letting their spirits take flight—literally.

Unlike most theaters, the appropriately named Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre is not a haven for acting, but rather the art of flying. The glass wind tunnel in the center of the amphitheater is powered by massive air flow engines, which allows the Shaolin monks to hover in the air in perfect levitation. The stage’s perforated surface quiets the engine room’s roar, enabling the monks to float atop the wind tunnel in absolute tranquility.

The Shaolin Flying Monks Theatre sits atop Shaolin Monastery’s Cypress Hill. The futuristic, 230-seat Colosseum was designed by the bold Latvian architectural firm Mailitis Architects and symbolizes “mountain and tree,” portrayed by the theater’s protruding facade and its mushroom-like glass levitation chamber, respectively.

Visitors can witness the levitating monks by attending shows held inside the theater every week. And sometimes, to the pleasure of daredevils and seekers of inner peace alike, the general public is allowed to step inside the levitation chamber as well.

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