Temple of Heaven

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by John Lamb on March 2, 2002

Tiantan, or Temple of Heaven in English, was completed in 1420 by Emperor Yongle. The idea behind the temple is that it is the meeting point between heaven and earth. The person who was the intermediary between heaven and earth was the emperor and every year he made the journey to the temple during Winter Solstice to pray for the harvest. It was forbidden by the common people to even look at the procession going to the temple and they had to close the windows and doors so as to not see the emperor. The first time the Temple of Heaven was allowed to be seen by the public was on Chinese National Day 1912 after the Imperial Court had fallen.

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.

Temple of Heaven
Tian Tan North Rd.
Beijing, China, 100050
+86 (0)10 6702 2242


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