Saturday, March 8, 2008

Temple of Heaven - Beijing, China

The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile tourist place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven' ,they dared not to build their own dwelling,'Forbidden City' bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of 'The heaven is round and the earth is square' (For more history:

Despite the frigid cold weather during this tour, there were still many people wandering the paths of the Temple of Heaven.

The Circular Altar has three layered terraces with white marble. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 A.D. - 1911 A.D.), the emperors would offer sacrifice to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. This ceremony was to thank Heaven and hope everything would be good in the future. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is a big palace with round roof and three layers of eaves (

There were way too many people gathered around a very small doorway, everyone was pushing and shoving to try and take a look instead and snap a picture. Krista managed to wiggle her way through and get at two pictures. Look closely, do you see the pigs?

Wooden model exterior.

Wooden model interior.

There were many religious ceremonies going on during the Chinese Lunar New Year. These Beijinger's were playing various games while enjoying the serenity and surroundings of the Temple of Heaven.

The Seven-Star Stone Group, east of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, represents the seven peaks of Taishan Mountain, a place of Heaven worship in classical China. There is a sign that clearly states to keep off the rocks, you would think the gated area was enough to keep people out.. but no. There were young boys climbing on top of the rocks while their mothers just stood and watched.

Here is a panoramic video clip of the upper level.