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Temple of Heaven
By chinadialy.com.cn ()
Updated: 2004-01-14 14:09

Temple of Heaven
Temple of Heaven

On leaving the Forbidden City, follow in the footsteps of emperors, court ministers and eunuchs and head south to the magnificent and colorful Temple of Heaven (Tiantan).

Although the bi-annual procession consisting of thousands of eunuchs and ministers no longer takes place, The Temple of Heaven and Tiantan park are still a delightful place to visit.

The Temple was completed in 1420 and was originally a platform for the Son of Heaven (the emperor) to perform sacrifices and solemn rites. Among the gods worshiped were the god of earth, the god of water, the god of agriculture (who has his own hall in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests), the god of the military, the god of religion and the god of civilians. Offering sacrifices was a serious task, as was atoning the sins of the people. The entire empire relied on the emperor for good fortune and abundant harvests so he had quite a responsibility! The Temple was opened to the public in 1912 and commoners who had previously been banned from even watching the bizarre procession pass through the city to Tiantan, were now permitted to visit the Temple themselves.

Temple of Heaven
Echo Hall

The Temple buildings and the parklands reflect ancient Chinese religious beliefs that imagine heaven as round and earth as square. Thus, the buildings in the temple are constructed on a central axis. The temples themselves are round and the bases square. Similarly, the Northern part of the park is a semicircular shape and the south, a square. In the south of the Temple complex are the Altar of Heaven and the Echo Wall. The parklands and the Temple are an exquisite place to spend some time, especially in the early morning. Drag yourself out of bed at dawn and watch the Taiji experts, kite flyers and dance fans strut their stuff.

Opening Time: 07:00-19:30 (winter), 05:00-21:30 (summer)



 
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