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Sunday, 13 December 2015

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

I haven't just made a quick side trip to Beijing, I'm going to be revisiting some previous trips and post some pictures and information about other places I've travelled to in the past.

China as a country has been an interest of mine since primary school days. I'm pretty sure I did at least one project on it! Fortunately for me a couple of years back a friend of mine moved to Beijing, so following the motto of 'have friend in exotic location, will visit' I've made 2 trips to Beijing. On the second trip I went to the Temple of Heaven which to me at least was a lesser known attraction. (Trip 1 covered The Great Wall, Forbidden City etc) 

I visited in the first week of October, here's a useful piece of information for anyone planning on being a tourist in China the first week in October, don't!!! October 1st is their national day and the Chinese are then given a week's public holiday, factories all shut down and the Chinese are tourists in their own country and abroad. So millions of Chinese tourists all visiting the same sites as you, I had never seen such enormous crowds and I had travelled on commuter trains in Japan in rush hour!

Despite the crowds the Temple of Heaven was well worth visiting and I enjoyed my time there. It's in the southern part of Beijing, it's possible to get there independently by travelling by subway. (And extremely cheap, subway fares in Beijing are minimal) However I went the expat route and hired my friend's driver to drop me off and pick me up at a prearranged time!

Research time!

The Temple of Heaven was built from 1409 to 1420, it was visited twice a year by the Emperor, so the Emperor could pray to Heaven for a good harvest. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed, as it was believed that the smallest of mistakes would be a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year. So no pressure then!!



The circular roofed building in the centre is the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the one behind it is the main temple.


The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Just beautiful, it had some restoration work done to it before the Beijing Olympics so it's magnificent to see. The original was burnt down in a fire in 1889 and then rebuilt so this isn't as old as other parts of the complex. It's constructed of wood all dovetailing as there are no nails used in it.


Inside the Hall of Prayers for Good Harvests. 
More research!
It has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars (one is in the centre of this picture) representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively. Combined together, the twelve middle and twelve outer pillars represent the traditional solar term. All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing Heaven.


Hall of Heavenly Emperor

The Temple complex is made up of various buildings some of which are linked by covered walkways. The day I visited they were full of families picnicking. The ceilings of the walkways are lovely as they are also decorated. 


Not a walkway ceiling but one inside the Emperor's Hall. Something I really liked about the Temple of Heaven Complex was all the artwork, how heavily and intricately decorated the buildings were, inside and out. I had seen quite a few temples through my travels in Asia, they don't tend to be brightly painted with fine details. These were and reminded me of the frescos you would see in Italian religious buildings, all fine details and beautiful colours.


The Temple Complex is situated in a park which is open to the public. It's a large green space in a large city, the park area totals 267 hectares (660 acres).

Aside from The Great Wall (which was a 'bucket list' desire to visit) The Temple of Heaven complex is probably my favourite site to visit in Beijing. I don't think it's as well known, my friend recommended it to me, it's one that I would highly recommend for anyone to see on a trip to Beijing. I've since read a few reviews that cautioned that there are lots of stairs, looking back that's not a thing that remained with me, just the beauty of all the art work.



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