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Home >> Beijing Travel Attractions >> Temple of Heaven travel information and tours

Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven, located 3 kilometers from central Beijing, was where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties came each winter solstice to worship heaven and to pray for good harvest for the coming years.

It was built in 1420 during the Ming Dynasty, and undergone extensions and renovations during the following Qing Dynasty. Covering an area of 273 hectares, it is the largest collection of temple buildings in China. To give an idea of the scope of this vast temple complex, it is three times larger than the Forbidden City.

The temple is divided by two enclosed walls into inner part and outer part. There are three building groups on the temple grounds: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. Each building group has its own architectural character.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the most magnificent building, 38 meters high and 24 meters in diameter. The hall is a cone-shaped structure with triple eaves. The building is supported by 28 wooden pillars. Four larger pillars in the center, known as Dragon Well Pillar, symbolize four seasons in a year. The other 24 pillars with each 12 pillars symbolize the 12 months of the year, and 12 Shichen in a day. Shichen is a ancient means of counting time. One Shichen equals two hours.

The Imperial Vault is located at the north of the Circular Mound Altar, and was used to place memorial tablets of Gods. It looks like the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in appearance, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth wall, the Echo Wall. The wall can transmit sounds over a distance due to the smoothness of the polished wall face. Below the steps to the Imperial Vault, there are three stones, which are called Echo Stones. If you applaud facing the wall while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; you will hear two and three echoes, respectively, if you stand on the second and third stone, respectively.

The Circular Mound Altar was where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held grand ceremonies to worship heaven. It was constructed in the ninth year of Jia Jing Emperor of the Ming Dynasty. It is a circular platform on three levels of marble stones.

The Temple of Heaven was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998. UNESCO has this to say of the Temple of Heaven: a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world's great civilizations..."

The Temple of Heaven now is a popular park enjoyed by both locals and travelers. Local Beijingers like to go to the park to do morning exercises. In the park, middle-aged women dance to traditional Chinese music, kids play kites and old people play Mahjong.

Beijing Attractions
Forbidden City
Badaling Great Wall
Mutianyu Great Wall
Temple of Heaven
Summer Palace
Tiananmen Square
Beijing Opera
Ming Tombs
Underground Palace
Yonghegong Lamasery
Beijing Hutong
White Cloud Taoist Temple
Beihai Park
Jinshanling Great Wall
Simatai Great Wall
Juyongguan Great Wall
JianKou Great Wall
Beijing Zoo
Confucian Temple
Shichahai Hutong
Tanzhe Temple
Fragrant Hills Park
798 Art Zone
Aquatics Center "Water Cube"
National Stadium "Bird's Nest"

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