Temple of Heaven 天坛

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Temple of Heaven:   

The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven, is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern Beijing. The Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties visited the complex annually when they prayed to Heaven for good harvests. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although Chinese Heaven worship, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, actually pre-dates Taoism.

The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The construction of the Temple is based around the number nine, the largest of the single digits, which is divine in Chinese numerology. The Temple consists of four basic parts: the Round Altar, the Echo Wall, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, and the Hall of prayer for Good Harvests.  The Round Altar is where the Emperor would report on the status of the country to Heaven. The Altar is constructed in the middle and can amplify sounds many times so that the emperor’s voice sounds like that of a whole nation. The Echo Wall is a round structure which if you whisper along the inner wall, your voice can be heard all the way around the other side. Supposedly the Emperor would use this method to secretly confer with Inner Court members. The Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests are both used for worship. To the west of the complex is the Hall of Abstinence, where the emperor would prepare to spend a night fasting. If you go to the Temple of Heaven early in the morning, you can see groups of people practicing kung fu and Tai Chi. The complex was extended and renamed the Temple of Heaven during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century. The Jiajing Emperor also built three other prominent temples in Beijing, the Temple of the Sun in the east, the Temple of the Earth in the north, and the Temple of the Moon in the west. The Temple of Heaven was renovated in the 18th century under the Qianlong Emperor.

In 1914, Yuan Shih-kai, then President of the Republic of China, performed a Ming prayer ceremony at the temple, as part of an effort to have himself declared Emperor of China.

The Temple of Heaven was registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1998.

Address: Yongdingmen Dajie, Chongwen District;
Entry ticket: 35 yuan;
Hours of operation: 8:30 - 18:30;
Traffic: Bus No.s 17 and 54, or trolley bus No.s 106 or 120 stop at the west gate; Bus No.s 6 and 35 stop at the north gate and Trolley-bus No.s 120 and 122, and Bus No. 803 stops near the south gate.
Tel: 8610-67028866.


Last Updated ( Friday, 19 June 2009 16:18 )  

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