Experiences - Asia

The Temple of Heaven, China

The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. Its overall layout and individual buildings symbolise the relationship between earth and heaven.

Located in southern Beijing, this temple was constructed in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle. It was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship the god of heaven and pray for good harvest.

The Temple of Heaven China

Image Courtesy: Don Sullivan used under the Creative Commons Licence

In the olden days, it was believed that heaven was round and earth was square, so the architecture of the buildings and the layout of the park reflect this belief. The park located in the complex is also a popular place for morning tai-chi.

The buildings are rich in symbolic details which represented the emperor – coloured glazes which represent heaven and earth, and pillars which represent the months of the year, the seasons and time. There are also echo stones where you can stand to hear your voice reverberate, and a circular echo wall which carries your whisper to the far side of the circle.

The main buildings include the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven, Danbi Bridge, and Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, Palace of Abstinence, Divine Music Administration, and Heaven Worship Culture.

Make a visit to the Temple of Heaven next time you are in Beijing to appreciate some of the finest Chinese architecture.

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