Introduction to Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China

During Yongle Emperor’s reign from 1402 – 1424, he moved the capital city to Beiping (now Beijing) and commissioned the Temple of Heaven while also building the Forbidden City. For 500 years, every Ming and Qing dynasty emperor came to Tiāntán (its Chinese name) three times a year to conduct an elaborate religious ceremony. This historic complex was expanded during the 16th century, renovated in the 18th century and last used in 1911. It became a park two years later and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988. If you enter from the South Gate (Zhaoheng) – the same one used by the emperor – your first view of the grandeur of this Taoist temple is from the terrace of the Circular Mound Altar (marble railing in foreground). The main structures are aligned in a south-north axis. They are shaped as either squares (earth) or circles (heaven). The highlights seen here (left to right) are: several of the white Lingxing Gates in front of Echo Wall; the cone-shaped Imperial Vault of Heaven; Chengzhen Gate; and the most famous structure, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The blue-glazed roofs represent heaven.

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South Gate, Yongdingmen East St. & Jintai Rd., Dongcheng Qu, Beijing Shi, China

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