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Discovering the Past at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven

Posted by Benjamin Poulton on 25/11/2015
Temple of Heaven Featured Image

As one of China’s oldest and most sacred structures, the Beijing Temple of Heaven belongs on your travel itinerary. This top Beijing tourist attraction was initially built in 1420 and is a place where emperors from the Ming and Qing Dynasties conducted the Heaven Worship Ceremony. During the Imperial era, the country’s leaders did not permit commoners to set foot on the temple’s grounds. Today, you can spend an entire day wandering the area as you ponder the past.

 

Constructing a Masterpiece

Emperor Zhu Di commissioned the construction of the Beijing Temple of Heaven in the royal garden. The temple’s design exhibits mystical cosmological laws that worshippers believed were at the heart of the universe’s workings. In designing the temple, architects planned the layout and the arrangement of the buildings to display the connection between the earth and the sky. During the period that the temple was originally built, this connection was the fundamental understanding of the universe. Because of this, you’ll spot complicated numerological combinations at the site.

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An Intriguing Destination

When you decide to tour the Temple of Heaven, you’ll be spending time in the Chongwen District. The temple comprises 2,700,000 square meters, which makes it larger than the Forbidden City. After its initial construction, Emperor Jiajing from the Ming Dynasty ordered an expansion of the temple. When Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty came into power, he too ordered modifications to the structure. China opened the temple and its grounds to the public as a park in 1988. A long wall encloses the temple. In addition, within the wall’s northern section, a semicircle represents the heavens while the southern area features a square that signifies the earth.

About the Numbers

At the time of the temple’s creation, the number nine was revered since it was thought to be the most powerful number. While looking at the Circular Altar’s slabs, you may notice that the temple’s builders laid them in multiples of nine. As you peer into the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, you’ll see that the hall’s inner 28 columns are split into four central pillars to symbolize the seasons. The space also has 12 interior columns, and these represent the months. While admiring the hall, keep in mind that this section of the temple was astonishingly constructed without nails.

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Best Time to Visit

As one of the most popular Beijing tourist attractions, many people visit the site each day. The best time to see the temple is in the morning because a large number of locals complete their morning exercises at the site. You’ll have the chance to admire elderly individuals practicing Tai Chi as well as children performing karate. During your time at the temple, you may even see people learning traditional dances or the art of sword fighting.

See the Temple of Heaven

Hotels in Beijing range from affordable and minimal to opulent and extravagant. After booking a hotel, like the Park Plaza Beijing Wangfujing, you’ll be ready to plan your travel itinerary for China. Consider placing the Temple of Heaven at the top of your list since the temple’s majestic architectural design and insightful cultural references will give you a glimpse into the eastern civilization’s ancient practices.

featured image source provided by chinafocustravel.com