The Temple of Heaven


The Temple of Heaven was built in the year 1420 A.C. during the Ming Dynasty in order to offer the sacrifice to heaven because the Emperor used to call himself, the son of heaven. The entire temple with its Hall of prayer, the Imperial vault, the circular moon altar and the imperial gardens has about 2,700,000 square meters.

The semicircular northern part of the temple symbolizes the heaven while the southern part is a square which symbolizes the earth. In the Chinese ancient culture, the heaven was round while the earth was square. The most amazing buildings in the Temple of heaven have also their religious meanings:

hall of prayer

Inside of the Hall of prayer

The Hall of prayer is the main circular building which has 36 meters of diameter and is 38 meters tall. As its name says, the Emperor used this Hall for his prays for good of harvest, hoping for times to stay well. The 28 posts inside the Hall are very particular because each one refers to a different meaning: 12 post represent the months of the year, 12 more the day divided into shichens and the rest 12 posts explain the 12 shichens which were used in ancient China to count the time.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a single-gabled circular building, surrounded by the popular echo wall which transmits sounds in long distances. The Imperial vault is connected with the Hall of prayer by a 360 long meter bridge called the Vermillon Steps Bridge.

The Circular Mound Altar is located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is only an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, decorated with dragons which is the mythological animal in China and represented the Emperor protecting their country. The center of the altar is called Heart of Heaven is was used as praying space for the Emperor to ask for good weather.

The temple of Heaven, located in Tiantan Dongmen only 15 minutes away from the Tiananmen square, was inscribed in 1998 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and represents a real masterpiece of the ancient Chinese imperial architecture. It is also the most visited temple in the city of Beijing, offering culture activities , a nice panoramic of the city and wide gardens for a walk into the Chinese emperor’s past time.

temple of heaven square

The Mound Altar

If you want to visit the Temple of Heaven:

Price: Enter to the main garden: CNY 10, full entrance: CNY 30.

By subway: Take line 5 and get off at Tiantan Dongmen Station leaving from exit A.

By Taxi: It is also easy to take a taxi in order to gain some time. If you tell the driver “Tian Tan” they will probably know and leave you just in front of the temple.

Pavillon of temple of heaven

One of the Pavillons inside the temple


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