Results 1-10of 13 Reviews
Rotherham, United Kingdom
April 2, 2010
From journal The Historic Parts of Beijing
Los Angeles, California
August 22, 2008
From journal My Cultural Revolution
May 28, 2005
The design of the park is highly symbolic. The north wall is semicircular (heaven) and the southern perimeter is square (earth). There are two altars; in the north there would have been prayers for a bumper crop, and this group of buildings is spectacularly extravagant. The large round building (you’ll often see it in photos of Beijing) is encircled by three ornately carved marble terraces evocatively named "two dragons over mountains and seas," "two phoenixes over mountains and seas," and "auspicious clouds over mountains and seas." Inside the temple, not an inch has been left unadorned - there’s a plethora of colour and design, and bright-red columns sport a gold design of exotic flowers creeping from terra firma heavenward.
We were amused by the Seventy Year Old Gate created as a shortcut for the emperor Hong Li when he became increasingly frail. This wily fellow decreed that none of his successors could use the gate unless they reached the age of 70 (hence its name), and none of them ever did! At the time of our visit, the area was blocked off for renovation.
We stumbled upon a group of tourists clustered around the Nine-Dragon Juniper Tree, so named because the tree’s trunk mimicked the shape of dragons slithering up the gnarled bark of the tree. Just let your imagination run wild!
Make sure you go to the Echo Wall (we nearly missed it) and try to whisper you’re your partner on the opposite side of the circular courtyard. The sound does reverberate along the wall, but to fully appreciate it, you’d need to ask other tourists to vacate the plot. I was tempted, but I guessed that they wouldn’t have complied.
Finally, we tried to imagine the scene with the ritual fires being lit, the solemn sacrifice being made to heaven, and the joyous celebration that would follow the preceding period of fasting.
This is a great and vast site, and I reckon it’s a must-see when you’re in Beijing.
From journal The Bustle of Central Beijing
Hamilton Square, New Jersey
October 24, 2002
Tiantan is not a single structure. The building that is often captioned "The Temple of Heaven" is actually the Temple for the Prayer for a Good Harvest. The Temple of Heaven is comprised of several buildings and courtyards. Each year, just before the Winter Solstice, the king would leave the Forbidden City, travel in total silence through the streets, unseen by any commoner, and enter the temple precincts to make a petition for a good harvest.
To get the best sense of how it worked, enter the temple through the south heavenly gate. Up a set of stairs to the robing terrace, then another set to the Round Altar, where prayers would be said and sacrifices made. The number of steps is significant -- there are 9 sets of 9 stairs. 9, as the largest single-digit odd number, was considered the most heavenly number.
Down the stairs on the other side of the altar, you will approach the Imperial Vault of Heaven, surrounded by an Echo Wall. It is said that if you stand facing the wall and whisper, someone on the other side will hear you. We tried and it didn't work. It could have been, however, that the Chinese idea of whispering is several times louder than the American version of whispering ... most people went up to the wall and screamed.
The gates of Prayer for Good Harvest lie near the northern end of the park. As you pass through them, you get your first unblocked view of the Temple of Prayer for Good Harvests. The simple white and blue exterior belie the splendor of the interior of the building. Every inch is painted in a riot of colors, with intricate furnishings and cabinets to hold the relics. Push your way in to get a good view.
On either side of the courtyard in front of the Temple of PGH are two buildings: one which explains the annual prayer ceremony, the other containing articles used during the ceremony and scenes from The Last Emperor which was filmed in the Temple Grounds. It was a great way to end an amazing trip.
From journal MBA Students on the Loose in Beijing
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
September 18, 2000
Entry to the park itself was Y4 and we entered at the West Heavenly Gate. We then walked up to the main (tourist) attraction, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests via a fantastic tree lined avenue. Admission to The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest was a further Y10, but this also included entry to the Round Alter and the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The Hall was spectacular and well worth seeing. It is one of the only examples of Ming architecture left in Beijing (although it was 'faithfully reconstructed' after burning down in 1889). Most other Ming buildings, including the Forbidden City were destroyed when the Qing Dynasty came to power. The building itself is 38 m high yet it doesn't have a single nail in it! It stands on a three tiered marble terrace that was very similar in design to those we had seen in the Forbidden City and Beihai Park. Behind the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was the Hall of August Heaven. This was filled with a display of different relics. A couple of the other buildings on each side of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests had also been turned into museums and we spent a bit of time looking at the things in them.
From there we went to the Round Altar, where the emperor talked directly to god as the 'collective voice of the whole nation'. It has been constructed in such a way that your voice is amplified to become 'sonorous and resonant'. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. We had to bypass the Imperial Vault of Heaven and Echo Wall because we ran out of time. I would have liked to visit Echo Wall because, apparently, if you whisper along the inner wall, it can be heard round the other side. However the number of people around meant that it probably wouldn't have worked anyway.
From journal Bumbling Through Beijing
July 2, 2003
The most striking building in the park is the "Hall of the prayer for good harvests". This is a 38-meters-high (and 30 meters in diameter) circular temple painted in blue, green, gold, and red, and it was striking to see this temple against the blue-sky background. As the name indicates, this was a temple built for the worship of heaven and prayers for good harvests. According to our guidebook, it was built without the use of nails, cement, or steel rods, and this makes it even more amazing. The whole structure seems to rely on some big wooden pillars. These pillars had to be replaced some time ago, by the way, and according to the guidebook, the Chinese had to import this from the USA.
From this temple we walked on a causeway called "Vermilion Steps Bridge" south to get to "Imperial vault of heaven". According to our guidebook, this has a perfect circular wall, and just like the Whispering Gallery at St. Paul’s in London, one can stand on one side and talk to people on the other side. Our guide book also mentioned that trying this out may be tricky as we could expect quite a few loud Chinese trying it too. *grin* Fortunately, it was not crowded that day. My wife and I went to a side each and all of a sudden I could hear her voice saying "G, can you hear me?". I was quite surprised and said, "Yes." I think my wife was even more surprised than me because all she could say was "Really??"
In the southern end of the park, you will find a the "Circular Altar". This structure has three layered terraces made up with marble.
From journal A week in Beijing
by Paul Bacon
March 12, 2006
I think it would be fair to say that the Temple of Heaven and I have something of a fractious relationship. On the two occasions I have visited, scaffolding and heavy restoration work have made much of the grounds in which it is situated, off limits. As a consequence of this on both those occasions I have skulked around the place feeling disenchanted at being deprived of great chunks of culture and a bit agitated at having to pay the full admission price when I was not getting the full temple.
The most photogenic and famous part of the temple is the circular, two-tiered, deep-blue Hall of Prayers of Good Harvests. Alas it was this, that on both my excursions there, was closed. On my first visit almost none of the structure was visible as it was virtually cocooned in scaffolding; I managed just to catch the odd glimpse of blue paintwork and was forced to leave mightily disappointed. Five months later the restorations had progressed enough for the hall to be at least visible, but not open to visitors. I took consolation in the fact that I could thankfully take a few pictures from a distance.
Whilst I may have missed out on one of the best aspects of the Temple of Heaven, I was able to enjoy some of the others. The grounds are genuinely beautiful and are exceedingly pleasant to stroll around, this is particularly true in summer when the tree-lined boulevards are lush with leaves and the grass is green and full-bodied.
The Echo Wall is also a wonderfully interesting little thing. It is semi-circular in shape and—in theory—allows sounds to resonate along it, making it possible to talk in whispers with a person thirty meters away. When I tried it though it proved impossible as hundreds of other tourists were trying the exact same thing. All I got was a cacophony of chatter ion a variety of languages.
A similar situation exists at the Triple Sounds Stones. It is alleged that on the pyramid of five flat stones a clap of the hands or a stamp of the feet will reverberate according to the stone upon which you are standing. So if you are on the highest stone, each noise will echo off the stones below. Again, this proved impossible to verify as my claps were drowned out by hundreds of others around me.
From journal Living life to Mao
July 28, 2004
Entering the park from the south affords the opportunity to see the three main sites culminating with best at the end. The first sight is the Circular Alter consisting of three-tiered marble terraces with the lucky number "9" exhibited by the number of stones and other such items within the architecture.
Next is the Imperial Vault of Heaven with Three Echo Stones outside. Stand on the 1st stone facing the vault, say something and you hear one echo. Stand on the 2nd stone and say something and you hear two echoes. And at the 3rd stone, three echoes.
Surrounding the Imperial Vault of Heaven is Echo Wall where a whispered word spoken at the east end of the wall will be heard clearly by someone at the west end and vice versa. Theory of sound waves provides a detailed explanation.
Both the Circular Alter and Imperial Vault of Heaven will cost you an extra Y10 each and does not permit re-entry if you accidentally exit or want to return.
Lastly, the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvest is a round wooden hall, 125 ft high and constructed entirely without the use of any nails or pegs. Inside are 28 huge pillars arranged to represent time. These include 4 seasons, 12 months, and the twelve divisions of a day…as on a clock face.
In spite of the interesting cultural and historic sights, my favorite was an open music area where locals simply engaged in a variety of activities. One group were holding sheets of music and singing out. Others were practicing Tai Chi or playing versions of hackysack and paddle ball. There were still other games that I couldn’t begin describe. A gentleman was even teaching a few couples to waltz.
Hours are 8:30-4:30, cost Y35.
From journal Beijing Now! Before The Olympics
by John Lamb
Colorado Springs, Colorado
March 2, 2002
There are many sights on the way to the temple. First is the Round Altar, which is made of three marble tiers. It is not very high but still offers some nice views of the park. The next group of buildings are part of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The buildings are encircled by the Echo Wall. From a certain point you can clap and hear it echo three times. But it is hard to tell because the place is full of tourists all trying to clap at the same time, so it sounds more like 100 claps.
The final, and most famous building, is Hall of Prayer and Good Harvest. It is round structure made of wood and without the use of single nail. It stands on top of a flight of stairs and mingles nicely with the sky. It is the good symbol for Beijing; a perfect, ancient building that stands alone with just the sky to surround it. Very much worth the trip.
From journal Beijing Over Chinese New Year
by Irish lassie
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
July 28, 2001
We not only found Tai Chi classes but we found groups of people waltzing and singing and praying and playing badmitton! At 7:30 AM my husband and I were waltzing to Strauss waltzes, it was just so much fun. We watched classes of women performing beautiful dances with scarves and fans, we also saw people performing graceful exercizes with swords, and music accompanied all of this through hidden speakers. My husband was trying the sword exercises without a sword, when the cutest little girl ran up and gave him sword to use, while saying "hallo, hallo". The park is many acres wide and I suggest that you arrive early on a weekend morning and just stroll; it is like nothing I've ever seen in the U.S., and it seems to be a very happy celebration of being alive. It is all over by 9 AM.
From journal Beijing