A study in harmony and order through symmetrical lines and Confucian design, the huge Temple of Heaven is a tranquil green oasis among the busy urban environment of Beijing. With stunning garden arrangements and temple halls, this religious Chinese site is steeped in imperial history and dates back to the Ming Dynasty.
The Temple of Heaven was traditionally where emperors performed important rites and sacrifices to please the gods in order to achieve bountiful harvests. The 267-hectare site is curved at the north end and square at the south representing the notion that ‘heaven is round, earth is square’. The temples of the grounds also reflect this idea with round halls and square bases. The dominant feature of the park is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests which consists of a blue-roofed tower with three eaves built in 1420. The structure is supported by 28 poles, signifying the seasons, months and days of a calendar, without the use of nails.
Other highlights in the park include the octagonal Imperial Vault of Heaven and the nearby Echo Wall where a whisper be heard from one end to the other. As the emperors would sacrifice animals and offer fruit to the gods on altars surrounded by candles, the Temple of Heaven also contains the not so jolly-sounding Animal Killing Pavilion with a green-tiled low-slung roof. From here, a Long Corridor is where locals congregate to play cards as well as practise Beijing opera and dance moves.
The Temple of Heaven offers an all-inclusive ticket for CNY35 or entrance to the park only for CNY15 from April to October or CNY30 and CNY10 respectively from November to March. It costs an additional fee for each building if you only purchase the park ticket so the all-inclusive pass is the better deal. To visit, the closest metro station is Tiantan Dongmen (Temple of Heaven East Gate) to arrive at the east gate of the park.