An oasis of orderly Confucian design, the 267-acre Temple of Heaven Park is unique. It was originally a huge stage for the emperor (literally “son of heaven”) to pray for a good harvest on the winter solstice and perform solemn ceremonies to seek God’s redemption and atonement. Since 1918, this private imperial estate has been open to the public who still gather daily to practice tai chi, spin the gymnastic bar and sing revolutionary songs profusely.
Do not expect worshipers to pray. This is not a temple, but a place of esoteric, Confucian-inspired national technology. The emperor, the Son of Heaven, visited his Temple of Heaven twice a year, with the more important ceremonies taking place on the winter solstice. Royal entourages moved quietly from the Forbidden City to the Emperor of Heaven, while citizens were instructed to close all windows and stay indoors. It contained a long line of aristocrats, officials and musicians. The imperial palanquin was 12 m long and 3 m wide and employed 10 porters.
Although there are four main entrances to the park (East and West gates are the most convenient for visitors; no transfer tickets can be purchased after 4pm), access to the Imperial Palace was through the Shoyokomon gate in the south. A circular altar led. On this open pedestal, ceremonies to heaven performed personally by the Emperor each winter solstice were performed according to solemn protocol.
Arranged in three rows, the circular altar revolves around the emperor’s number 9. Odd numbers were considered sacred in imperial China. Nine (ninth) is his largest single-digit odd number and a homonym for longevity. The altar is arranged on his three tiers, and on the top tier are his nine stone rings arranged in multiples of nine. Stairs and railings are also multiples of 9.
North of the round altar is the Palace of Heaven, surrounded by a low circular wall known as the echo wall. Despite its grandiose appearance, the vault of heaven was a storeroom in which spirit plates of the gods and other materials needed for ceremonies on the circular altar were kept. , the base is square. This pattern comes from the ancient Chinese belief that the heavens are round and the earth is square.
The 65m diameter Echo Wall is named for its unique acoustic properties. A few meters from the wall, you’ll hear a soft word or two on the other side of the circle (but the chatter of other tourists may drown it out!). Starting from the Imperial Vaults of Heaven, the majestic 360-meter-long Red Stairway Bridge is the Imperial Road that leads to the magnificent center of the Temple of Heaven, a place of prayer for good harvests.
A much-photographed icon, the three-winged Hall of Good Harvest is made entirely of wood without the use of nails, with a heavy roof supported by 28 wooden pillars. Built around 1420, it was destroyed by lightning in 1889. The following year, a faithful replica was constructed using Ming construction techniques, using timber imported from the United States, as there were no trees large enough for this work in China at the time. Rich in esoteric symbols, the central four largest pillars represent the seasons, the next ring’s twelve pillars represent the months, the outermost twelve pillars represent the day, each representing twelve hours of two hours. It is divided into “clocks”.
A vivid dragon and phoenix relief depicting the emperor and empress writhe on the ceiling. The Animal Slaughterhouse, which is connected to the Prayer Hall for Good Harvest by an ornate long corridor, was the place where cattle, sheep, deer, and other animals were slaughtered and prepared before being sacrificed to the gods.Copper on display To see the cauldron and septic tank, you need to show your passport.
On the west side of the park, the Music Station of the Gods is where drummers, flutists and bell-tollers gather before imperial ceremonies. It is now a museum, with exhibits focused on the imperial court’s ceremonial music, Zhongxiaolu, and a gallery dedicated to ancient Chinese musical instruments. The Lenteng Palace, adjacent to the west side of Heaven’s Gate, is where the Emperor crouched in preparation for the winter solstice ceremonies and refrained from all earthly pleasures for a day or two. It resembles a miniature Forbidden City, surrounded by a moat and with its own drum and bell tower. A passport is required for entry.
Since 1918, Temple of Heaven has been opening its doors to Beijing’s ancient “hundreds” – literally ordinary people. Amid nearly 4,000 gnarled cypress trees, locals perform Tai Chi, Kung Fu his routines, dances, or impromptu choirs and orchestras, enthusiastically performing old revolutionary songs You can see that The driving range to the northeast of the park offers some of the best people-watching in Beijing. Here you might see his 70s on gymnastic bars and other sporting feats.