The Temple of Heaven

Beijing Travel Blog

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Completed during the Ming Dynasty, this is more correctly known as Tian Tan and is one of the largest temple complexes in China.  It was the site on which emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties offered sacrifices to Heaven, prayed for rain and a good harvest.  There is no single building here although The Hall of Good Harvest is mistakenly called the Temple of Heaven.


The Hall of Prayer and Good Harvest  This was first built in 1420 and then restored completely in 1889 after a lightning strike.   The finial on top is 125ft high and prone to lightning.  The circle roof symbolizes the sky and blue represents the colour of heaven. The roof was made without nails or cement and the number of tiles exceeds 50,000.  as you can see it has three stories and three rooms. Around the building are often written in the calligraphy of an emperor.  The red colour represents the imperial colour and dragon and phoenix motifs symbolise the emperor and empress.  Inside is beautiful and if you look up you can see a gilded dragon and phoenix in the centre of the ceiling. The rooms of the hall are supported on 28 highly decorated pillars.  At the centre, the four huge columns, known as Dragon Well Pillars, represent the seasons while the other 24 smaller pillars symbolise the months of the year plus the two-hour time periods a day.


Imperial Vault of Heaven  This is a wooden temple and can be reached by a raised walkway from the Gate of Prayer and Good Harvest.  Surrounding this building is the Echo Wall.


Circular Mound Altar  This huge round altar is south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven and it symbolises the Altar of Heaven.  The three marbled tiers symbolise earth, man and heaven, and according to Chines cosmology the central stone in the top tier marks the very centre of the world.  On the winter solstice the emperor ascended to this spot and from a stone tablet read sacred prayers.


Tiatan Park  Visit this relaxing park which surrounds the temple off the north-south axis that aligns the major buildings in the Forbidden City. Walk down the LONG CORRIDOR in this park.  It is 350 metres in length and 5 metres wide.  Locals spend a lot of time here and you will find locals playing cards and even ballroom dancing along the corridor.  Groups of musicians are playing all over the park.  Also in the park are the SEVEN STONES  these symbolise the seven peaks of the Taishan mountains. 

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photo by: Deats