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The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven Travel Guide

The Temple of Heaven,at southeast of Qianmen and the Tiananmen Square, was built in the 15th century, a sacred site for ancient Beijing, where the emperor and his 1000 member entourage would retreat twice a year for religious ritual.

Surrounded by enormous grounds designed in accordance with fengshui,the Temple of Heaven is complexly consists of the Celebrated Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, a unique wooden and blue-tiled structure built without a nail.

The Temple is divided by two enclosed walls into inner part and outer part. The main buildings of the Temple lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis line of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are The Circular Mound Altar (Yuanqiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo Stones and Echo Wall.Almost all of the buildings are connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge (Danbiqiao) or called Sacred Way.

It is considered the supreme achievement of traditional Chinese architecture. It is not only a beautiful sight, but also surrounded by a vast public park popular with local residents practicing Taiji, dancing, and so on in the mornings and on weekends.

A reflection of ancient Chinese religious
The Temple of Heaven buildings and the parkland reflect ancient Chinese religious beliefs that imagine heaven as round and earth as square. Thus, the buildings in the temple are constructed on a central axis.

The temples themselves are round and the bases are square. Similarly, the Northern part of the park is a semicircular shape and the south is a square. In the south of the Temple complex are the Altar of Heaven and the Echo Wall.

The parkland and the Temple are an exquisite place to spend some time, especially in the early morning. Drag yourself out of bed at dawn and watch the Taiji experts, kite flyers and dance fans strut their stuff.

Unique architecture and landscape design
The highlight of the Temple of Heaven is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The hall, a cone-shaped structure with triple eaves, was built without beams and purlins. The heavy triple eave top is supported entirely by 28 huge columns. The Hall is enclosed by lattice doors and windows instead of brick walls. The whole building is of high artistic value in structure shape and application of colors.

The imperial Vault of The Temple of Heaven is a single-eaved round building covered by dark-blue glazed tiles on the roof. The tablet of "the imperial God in Heaven" was kept here and moved to the Circular Mound Altar to be worshiped on the occasions of sacrificial ceremonies.

The well-known Echo Wall 65.1 meters in diameter surround the Vault. When two persons stand at the east and west ends respectively and whisper toward the wall they can hear each other as distinctly as they were talking over the telephone.

The Circular Mound Altar was used to worship heaven so it was built in a round shape. The Circular Mound is comprised of three round white marble terraces. In the center of he upper terrace is the HeavenĀ“s Heart Stone which is surrounded by concentrically arranged flagstones.

Why it is must-see sight?
Three Echo Stones is outside of the gate of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. A very interesting thing is that if you speak facing the Vault while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; standing on the second and then the third stone, you will hear two and three echoes respectively.

If you and your friend stand at the east and the west roots of the wall respectively and you whisper a word, then your friend will hear clearly what you say.

DCT Tips:

the best time to visit is in the morning when you can have the chance to watch some people doing the morning excises like Tai Chi,dancing, Ping Pong and so on.

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