The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven Park is located in  Chongwen District, Beijing. The Temple of Heaven was originally used as  the royal Heaven Worship  place by  emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911).  Well preserved till now, the Temple of Heaven  is the largest and most representative existing masterpiece of China's ancient sacrificial buildings. First built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), Temple of Heaven was expanded and rebuilt during the reigns of the Ming emperor Jiajing and the Qing emperor Qianlong. It was opened as a public park in 1988, which shows ancient Chinese philosophy, history and religion to visitors home and abroad. Its traditional Chinese architectural style and profound cultural connotation give an insight into the practices of the ancient oriental civilization.

The Temple of Heaven covers  an area of 2,700,000 square meters, it is even bigger than the Forbidden City. As the 'Sons of Heaven', Chinese emperors were precluded from building a dwelling for themselves that was greater than the earthly residence dedicated to Heaven, hence the difference in  size of the two complexes. The temple is enclosed by 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'.

Temple of Heaven is divided by two encircling walls into an inner part and outer part. The main buildings lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are the Circular Mound Altar (Huanqiutan), the Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north.