The Temple of Heaven is a famously known UNESCO World Heritage Site, also know as Tian Tan. One of China’s best examples of religious architecture in history. Construction began in 1406 during the reign of Yongle, taking 14 years to complete. Emperor Qianlong later carried out an extensive renovation of the complex.
Map of Temple of Heaven Park
Why is it called Temple of Heaven? During the Ming and Qing dynasty, more than 20 emperors visited the Temple of Heaven every winter solstice. In their capacity as the Son of Heaven, to offer prayers, make sacrifices for a good harvest. Not only does it reflect the aesthetic ideology of the ancient Chinese people, it also shows their reverence and respect towards Heaven.
3 days before the rituals began, the emperor would not drink wine, feast on meat or pungent vegetables such as garlic and scallions. He only ate simple vegetables dishes and abstained from sex.
The Hall of Prayer for a Good Harvest is the largest wooden structure in Beijing. It’s elegant shape, traditional design and evocative style make it a cultural icon. The most redolent symbols of Chinese civilization.
Today Temple of Heaven is situated as a large and pleasant park that attracts thousands of visitors daily. Be there either in the early morning or evening to catch the old folks doing their exercise such as Tai Ji Quan or dancing regime. Sometimes busker performing their trade in the park to attract the visitors. Below is one busker i encountered entering from North Gate.
After exploring and understand the rich history culture, visitors can proceed to the park for a leisure walk if you going to exit by north gate and west gate. The park is clean and serenity, is a good place to take sit down and relax your tired feet after endless walking inside. :p
There are 250,000 square meters of ancient pine woods within the Temple of Heaven complex. About 60,000 trees growing in the site. There are 1150 of ancient pines and Chinese locust trees that are more than 300 years old, am totally amazed by such structure.
Or head west to the Flowers Garden to view the beautiful flowers planted.
Do take note visiting Imperial Vault of Heaven and Altar of Heaven requires to purchase separate ticket. The entrance fee to Hall of Prayer and park is 35 Yuan during peak season.
After viewing Temple of Heaven, walk down south along the Danbi bridge. I recalled during the autumn season the gardeners would put many pots of flowers to beautify the crowded walkway, plenty of local tourist would be standing around it taking pictures happily.
Imperial Vault of Heaven might need to queue to view the interior as it is only a one way path. The building is use for storing ceremonial equipment. Is difficult to take picture as insufficient light available. Is ok to check out the round altar that dominates the southern part of the site if you want.
Temple of Heaven must visit known for it’s five centuries of imperial ceremony and symbolism. A place where modern visitors get to admire it’s architecture unity and beauty.
A good destination to visit for tourist and travel photographer who first time travel in Beijing.