The Temple of Heaven located in Beijing was at one time a very important shrine in ancient imperial China. Today this complex of grand buildings situated in an expansive park is a popular attraction for both locals and visitors from foreign lands.
The building of this vitally significant shrine commenced during the rule of the Emperor Yongle and was concluded in the year 1420. This place of worship was made use of by all the succeeding emperors of the Qing and Ming dynasties.
In China’s imperial age, the emperor was thought to literally be the Son of the Heavens and the connection between heaven and earth. There it was vital for the emperor to demonstrate due respect and devotion to the heavenly powers as this was the legitimation of his worldly power. The Temple of Heaven was the place designated for these vitally important sacrifices and rituals made by the emperor to the celestial powers.
The most significant of these rites was conducted at the time of the winter solstice at which time the sovereign involved himself in prayers for a bountiful harvest. This ceremony had to be conducted with absolute precision as even a slight error was construed as a negative omen.
The park in which the temple stands is constructed according to sacred principles which state that Heaven is of round shape and that Earth is considered to be square. Therefore the park follows the dimensions of a square topped by a semicircle.
The park features several imposing buildings of historical significance, each constructed with observance of the principles of feng shui. The Round Altar is a podium with three harmonious tiers of marble.
Meanwhile the House of the Heavenly Lord is a circular building composed solely of wood and covered by a striking roof with glazed blue tiles. At the park’s northern flank you will find the principal shrine building, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. This splendid circular building rests on a handsome marble foundation and features distinctive blue tile roofs. The building’s interior is resplendent with striking colours.
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