The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty. The Emperor came here twice a year during the solstices. The temple is all wood, constructed without nails. All the weight is on 4 huge pillars (for the 4 seasons.) Other design elements are in 12s, representing years and hours. Nine is an important number, and there are 3 sets of 9 steps up to the temple. The roof corners on the gates have musical animal figures (children of the dragon.)
The Temple of Heaven has a blue roof (for the sky.) All the other royal palaces and temples have yellow roofs, a royal color. Only royals could wear yellow on the grounds.
A park surrounds the temple, and it is a great place to people-watch. It is busy, with people exercising, playing games, singing, etc.
This is where the burning took place before worshiping.
Signboard was written as:
Firewood Stove - The Firewood Stove is a huge green glazed brick stove. Before the ceremony of worshiping Heaven began, a clearly washed and shaved calf was put on the stove and with great respect and to be burnt while the emperor stood by watching the process- a ritual called " Observation of the Burning".
Burning Stove - It is a iron stove for burning the offerings. 8 stoves placed here were used to burn the offerings placed in front of the tablets of the first 8 generations of the Qing Emperors worshiped as the accessory deities.
After visiting the Hall of Imperial Heaven including the Stoves, we proceeded to Vermillion Steps Bridge..
After visiting The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, I continued to visit The Hall of Imperial Heaven. It is much smaller hall. The signboard was written as:
The Imperial Hall of Heaven was "the Heavenly Warehouse" of the Altar of Prayer for Grains. The tablet of 'the God of Heaven" and the tablets of the emperor's ancestors to be displayed and Harvests were kept here. The day before the ceremony, the emperor came here in person to burn incense sticks and perform the divide greetings for the transference, and then the officials of the Ministry of Rituals transferred the tablets to the appropriate places in the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvests. With a square root and eaves in four directions covered with blue glazed titles, the hall was built in 1420 (the 18th year of Ming Emperor Yongle's reign), and the hall placard bears an inscription in the handwriting of Zhu Houcong, emperor Jiajing of Ming Dynasty.
In Chinese: 皇乾殿 (Huang Qian Dian)
After visiting The Hall of Imperial Heaven, we continued to visit the Firewood Stove and Burning Stoves.
I visited this place, and took the note on the signboard was written as:
"Built in 1420 (the 18th year of Emperor Yongle's reign of Ming Dynasty), the original hall, rectangular in shape, was first named the Great Hall of Sacrificial Rituals used to workship both Earth and Heaven. Rebuilt in 1545 (the 24th year of Emperor Jiajing's reign) into a round hall with a triple-eaved roof, each covered with blue yellow and green glazed tiles respectively, symbolizing Heaven, Earth, and the mortal world, it was surmounted by triple roof with azure glazed titles only, culminating in a gilded sphere, and designated the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, exclusively used to pray for good harvests in early spring (in January). 38.2 meters in height and 24.3 meters in diameter, the hall is supported by immerse pillars, symbolizing the four seasons, the 12 months of the year, the 12 time divisions of the day and night, and all the constellations. It is the only existing example of the ancient architectural style of Mingdang."
At least, you know what to expect before your visit!!
In Chinese: 祈年殿 (Qi Nian Dian)
After visiting The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, should proceed to The Hall of Imperial Heaven..
The Temple of Heaven is located southeast of Center Beijing. It was a Taoist temple where Ming and Qing emperors came here for the ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. This temple complex was constructed between 1406-1420 by Yongle Emperor.
This is a must-visit place in Beijing. It was inexpensive to get in as comparing to other museums and parks in China. We went in though the North Gate, and walked a huge green park. We visited the Hall of Payer Good Harvest, Hall of Imperial Heaven and East Annex Hall.
In the middle part, we walked through the Vermilion Steps Bridgesbefore entering Chengzhen Gate. Imperial Vault of Heaven was a beautiful temple we saw when entering Chengzhen Gate. We saw this 500 year old juniper. It continued with the Echo Wall, and the huge open field with an center round viewing deck. Then we exit through the South Gate.
I recommend you to take at least 5 to 6 hours to enjoy it all. Beautiful gardens and parks .. not to miss...
If you have extra time, don't miss other attractions in the Park.
In Chinese: 天坛 (Tian Tan)
One of the reasons that Beijing is such a special city is the way they have managed to perserve their diverse culture despite the modern growth of the city. Beijing is full of parks, ancient hutongs, and many different temples that are scattered throughout the city. The Temple of Heaven is a fine example of the ancient culture of China that has been perfectly preserved in the middle of a modern bustling city. It is part of a large park complex that offers places to sit, eat lunch, and watch as the locals meditate or practice yoga. Then of course there is the large and spectacular temple itself that towers over the park and points towards the heavens. When you climb up into the complex you will again, much like everywhere in Beijing, feel as though you have been swept away to another time. The picturesque Temple of Heaven is a must visit and a wonderful place to sit in the sun and admire the ancient Chinese handiwork that has more than withstood the test of time.
A large (and discreet) platform was, in the old days, considered the center of the world.
There is a long story about stone in circle, multiples of nine, and so on, but you will have to listen to it in location, to check by yourself.
I couldn't memorize it.
This was the primary temple for worship visited by the emperors during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Built by the Ming in the 14th and 15th centuries, it is actually a complex surrounded by beautiful parkland. The Emperor would visit 2 times a year and pray for a good year, with ample crops and abundant rain.
The complex is designed so you either buy a through ticket or individual tickets, depending on what you wish to do. In addition to the temples, the park is a lovely place to simply stroll. The Temple of Heaven, like the Forbidden City, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After passing the Chengzhen Gate, we saw this very old tree with named Nine-Dragon Cypress. The signboard was written as:
" This is a Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis) of over 500 years old. Straight, robust and in a grotesque shape, the trunk is covered all over with spiral grooves which twist up vertically along as if nine coiling dragons were wreathing up into the sky, and hence the name of "the Nine-Dragon Juniper".
Don't miss this... very interesting to watch..
In Chinese: 九龙伯 (Jiu Long Bo)
The southern part of The Temple of Heaven is the Circular mound surrounded by Echo Wall and Lingxing Gate. The Circular Mound was also built for religious purpose. The emperor would do a ceremonies to pray for rains during in the time of drought. Many animals would be scarified to make sure they have a good harvest.
In Chinese: 圜丘坛 (Jiu Qiu Tan)
The Echo Wall and Lingxing Gate were built to let their offering heard from Heaven.
The signboard was written as:
Echo Wall: The Echo Wall is the circular surrounding wall of the Celestial Warehouse. The hard and smooth wall in a perfect circumference constitutes an excellence refelcting body for the sound waves, which travel along the wall surface by continuous reflections. If two persons stand by the wall behind the East Annex Hall and the West Annex Hall respectively and speak with their face toward north, they can hear each other's voice clearly. Calls and responses or asks and answers constitute a wonderful conversation.
Lingxing Gate: They are made of white marble in the special gate form of the surrounding walls of ancient alters, form similar to that of the monumental archway. The outer and inner surrounding walls of the Circular Mound are pierced with four groups of gates, each group with three gates. There are 8 groups of Lingxing gates, 24 gates in all, known as "the Cloud Gates Forming a jade Forest".
Very interesting place to end the trip to The Temple of Heaven. It was almost sunset...: )
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