Temple of Heaven, Beijing Tiantan
The Temple of Heaven, dating back to 1420 in the south of the city, incorporates a group of sacred buildings surrounded by lush vegetation. With its southern rectangular section, and its northern semi-circular section, the complex symbolizes heaven and earth.On the day of the winter solstice, having fasted and meditated for three days, the emperor would ascend the Heavenly Altar in solemn ceremony to pray for a good harvest and to offer sacrifices.
Opening hours: 6am-8pm
Entrance fee in CNY: Adult ¥35.00
Temple of Heaven Highlights
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
A marble path leads to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (Qinian Dian). It was built in 1420 on the Altar of Harvest Sacrifice, restored in 1545, destroyed by lightning in 1889 and rebuilt a year later. Here the emperor prayed for a good harvest. The hall is 38m/125ft high and has a diameter of 30m/98ft. As customary in Chinese wooden buildings, it was made entirely without the use of nails. The hall sits on a three-tier marble terrace with balustrades and has a roof that also boasts three tiers and is covered with 50,000 blue glazed tiles. The building is supported by 28 symbolic columns arranged in three circles. The four large columns in the center, the Dragon Fountain columns, represent the four seasons, the twelve smaller columns in the inner and outer circles stand for the twelve months, and, according to an old Chinese traditions, for the twelve sections of the day.A marble plaque on the floor in the center of the hall represents the dragon and the phoenix stone, the symbols of the emperor.
Hall of the Vault of Heaven
A raised pathway leads to the Hall of the Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu), erected in 1530 and rebuilt in 1752, with its blue tiled conical roof. The ceremonial plaques of Heaven and the Officials for the sacrificial rituals were stored here, in the side galleries beyond were the plaques of the Constellations and Meteorological Occurrences.The temple's outer wall echoes to even the quietest of voices, hence its name Echo Wall (Huiyin Bi).In front of the hall are also three unusual echoing stones, which because of their varying distances to the hall can throw back an echo up to three times.
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