Temple of Heaven, to the south-east of the Tiananmen Square, is the site where the emperor prayed every year for a bountiful harvest and fair weather

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Temple of Heaven and Tai Chi Tour

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Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, to the south-east of the Tiananmen Square, is the site where the emperor prayed every year for a bountiful harvest and fair weather.

Temple of Heaven, to the south-east of the Tiananmen Square, is the site where the emperor prayed every year for a bountiful harvest and fair weather. Built in 1420 and later renovated a few times, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architectural integrity and authenticity as well as symbolism.

The layout of the temple complex is oriented along the Red Steps Bridge on the north-south axis, with a circular northern part and square southern part, symbolizing ancient Chinese belief that Heaven is round and Earth is square.

In the northern part stands the Qinian Dian Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a circular wooden building where the Emperor prayed for good harvests by sacrificing animals and burning incense in ceremony. Its blue circular roof represents the sky, and the roof is centered around a gilded dragon and phoenix. Dragon and phoenix motifs are a recurring feature throughout, representing the emperor and empress. The hall has with three levels of marble, with 4 inner (Dragon Well), 12 middle and 12 outer pillars, representing the 4 seasons, 12 months and 12 traditional Chinese hours respectively.

The 360 metre long Red Steps Bridge to its south leads to the Imperial Vault of Heaven, a circular building where the emperor made offerings. It is surrounded by the Echo Wall that can transmit sounds over large distances.

The Circular Mound Altar is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, each decorated by lavishly carved dragons. The center of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven or Sun Stone where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather.

The Fasting Palace or Palace of Abstinence was where emperors fasted before the ceremony.

The Temple of Heaven is surrounded by a sprawling public park popular with local residents practicing tai-chi and other martial arts in the mornings. It has one of the greenest patches in the city, with ancient trees and a peaceful ambience.


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About Temple of Heaven

 Beijing

Temple of Heaven and Nearby Sights on Map

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