The Temple of Heaven is located in the southeast of Beijing and has existed for more than 500 years. The Temple of Heaven was built for the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to worship Heaven and pray for a good harvest. The Temple of Heaven is the largest and best-preserved architectural complex for sacrifice in China.
Occupying an area of 1 square mile (2,720,000 square meters), the Temple of Heaven is slightly larger than the Forbidden City. There are two layers of walls around the Temple, dividing it into two parts: and inner and outer enclosure. The main buildings of the Temple include the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Imperial Heavenly Vault, and Circular Mound Altar. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest has three concentric circles of massive wood columns symbolizing the 4 seasons, 12 months, and 12 hours of daytime.
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a smaller circular building constructed without crossbeams, and its dome is supported by complicated span work. The Circular Mound Altar is a triple-tiered white stone terrace enclosed by two sets of walls that are square outside and round inside which are symbolic of the supposedly square earth and round heaven. Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held their ceremonies to worship Heaven in the Circular Mound Altar on winter solstice. Therefore the Circular Mound Altar also called “Heaven Worship Altar”.
The whole construction of the Temple of Heaven is made with wood, making it the preeminent wooden complex in all of China. Another marvelous and magnificent spot of the temple is Echo Wall. When standing in the center of the Circular Mound Altar, you can hear the bright sound which seems to come from the earth’s core and sometimes from the sky.
As the largest building complex for worshiping Heaven in the world, the Temple of Heaven was entered into the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage sites in 1998.
Address: Tian Tan Lu (north gate entrance), Beijing, China
Opening Times: Daily 8:00-18:00; daily 6:00-20:00 (park).
Admission Fees: 10RMB (low season), 15RMB (low season)
Note: joint ticket: 30RMB (Low season),35RMB(High Season) Disabled Access: Yes Telephone: (10) 6702 8866.