Temple of Heaven
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Temple of Heaven
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The Temple of Heaven Park is located in the Chongwen District, Beijing. Originally, this was the place where emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911) held the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is China's largest and most representative existing masterpiece among China’s ancient sacrificial buildings. First built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), it was enlarged and rebuilt during the reigns of the Ming emperor Jiajing and the Qing emperor Qianlong. In 1988, the Temple of Heaven was opened to the public as a park, showing ancient philosophy, history and religion. Its grand architectural style and profound cultural connotation give an insight into the practices of the ancient Eastern civilization.

Covering an area of 2,700,000 square meters (3,529,412 square yards), the Temple of Heaven is larger 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 overall 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'.

The Temple 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.

Recommended Touring Routes
Map of Temple of Heaven
Map of Temple of Heaven
(Click to enlarge)
1. Zhaoheng Gate (South Gate) → Circular Mound Altar → South Divine Kitchen → Echo Wall → Imperial Vault of Heaven → Three Echo Stones → Danbi Bridge → East Annex Hall → Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests → West Annex Hall → Palace of Abstinence → Divine Music Administration
2. North Gate → Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests → East Annex Hall → West Annex Hall → Danbi Bridge → Echo Wall → Imperial Vault of Heaven → Three Echo Stones → Danbi Bridge → South Divine Kitchen → Circular Mound Altar → Lingxing Gates → Palace of Abstinence → Divine Music Administration

 Circular Mound Altar
Located in the southern part of the Temple of Heaven, The Circular Altar Mound is actually the Temple of Heaven in the practical sense. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emperors would offer sacrifice here to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. Its famous buildings include the Lingxing Gates, the Lantern Viewing Pole, the Terrace of Worshipping Heaven, the Heaven Heart Stone, the Firewood Stove and the Divine Kitchen Courtyard.

 Imperial Vault of Heaven
Along the middle axis, from the Circular Mound Altar to the north, you will see the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is the place housing the Gods’ tablets to be used at the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is famous for the Echo Wall, Three Echo Stones and the Dialogue Stone, which are all interesting attractions utilizing the theory of sound wave.
Circular Mound Altar
Tourists on the The Circular Mound Altar
    
Imperial Vault of Heaven
Imperial Vault of Heaven
 Danbi Bridge
Also called the Vermilion Steps Bridge, the Danbi Bridge connects the northern part and the southern part. The south end of the Bridge is lower than its north end. The emperors believed that they could go to heaven by this Bridge, hence the name, Sacred Way. The Sacred way had three routes, the central one was the Imperial Route exclusively used by the Emperor and on one side was the Princes’ Route. On the other side was the route for high officials.

 Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
Across the Danbi Bridge, you will come to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It is a big palace with round roof and three layers of eaves, where the emperor held the worship ceremonies to pray for good weather and abundant harvests. It is the earliest building of the Temple of Heaven. It is a complex consisting of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Altar for Grain Prayers.

 Palace of Abstinence
Located in the southwest of the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Palace of Abstinence is where the emperor fasted before the Heaven Worship Ceremony began. It has several distinctive buildings, such as the Beamless Hall, the Rest Palace, the Belfry, etc.

 Divine Music Administration
Located to the southwest of the Palace of Abstinence, the Divine Music Administration is one of the five major buildings in the Temple of Heaven. This was the location of the managing body for the ceremonial musical instruments as well as the place where the sacrificial ritual was devised and rehearsed. This was the most important ritual music academy of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

 Heaven Worship Culture
Established by Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, the annual Worship of Heaven ceremony by the emperor took place here. The ceremony was subject to special regulations for its preparation, place, time, procedures, music and dance. This ceremonial practice confirmed the divine right of emperor and the religious belief of the ancient Chinese people.

 FAQs on Temple of Heaven

Today’s Temple of Heaven
Natives in Temple of Heaven
Leisure activities of Beijingers in the park
There are over 60,000 varieties of tree. The most famous tree is the grandfather tree - a 500-year-old Nine-Dragon Cypress with branches like nine dragons winding with each other. These trees create a quiet environment and an ideal resort for the locals to do their morning exercise. Residents living near the Temple of Heaven enjoy many activities here, such as running, cycling, singing, dancing, playing chess, flying kites, etc. You can become involved personally in these activities and experience the leisure pursuits of local people.

 The 10th Tiantan Culture Week
Time: Lunar January 1– 5 (January 31 to February 4, 2014)
Activities: Reproduce The God of Heaven Praying Ceremony according to the history record in the Qing Dynasty, including the honor guard performance, ritual music and dance, and the ancient music show. The ritual parade is made up of over 300 guards. You'll see the tradition of worshipping the god of heaven vividly. There are also special ancient music concerts in the Divine Music Administration every day.

Ticket Type

Nov.1-Mar.31 (next year)

Apr.1-Oct.31

Entrance Fee

CNY 10

CNY 15

Combination Ticket 
(including the entrance fee, Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Circular Mound Altar & Echo Wall)

CNY 30

CNY 35

Hall of Ceremonial Music & Hall of Abstinence

CNY 10

CNY 10

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Circular Mound Altar & Echo Wall

CNY 20

CNY 20

Opening Hours

06:00-22:00 (the inside scenic area opens at 08:00);

From Mar.1 to Jun. 30: Combination Ticket unavailable after 16:00; Scenic Spot Ticket unavailable after 17:00; Scenic Spots closed at 17:30.
From Jul. 1 to Oct.31: Combination Ticket unavailable after 16:30; Scenic Spot Ticket unavailable after 17:30; Scenic Spots closed at 18:00.
From Nov.1 to Feb.28/29 (next year): Combination Ticket unavailable after 15:30; Scenic Spot Ticket unavailable after 16:30; Scenic Spots closed at 17:00.

Recommended
Time for a Visit

1.5 hours

Electronic Guide Equipment

Position: At the four gates
Time: 8:00—17:00
Languages: Cantonese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spain
Fees: CNY 100 as guarantee deposit which will be refunded when the machine is returned; the machine rent fee is CNY 40.

By Subway

Subway Line 5: get off at Tiantan Dongmen Station, Leave from Exit A and you'll find the East Gate of the Park.

By Bus

Take bus 6, 34, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 60, 116, 610, 707, 723, 743, 957, or 958 and get off at Tiantan Dongmen (East Gate) Station.
Take bus 36 (环), 53, 120, 122, 525, 610, 800 (内), 803 or 958 and get off at Tiantan Nanmen (South Gate) Station.
Take bus 2, 7, 15, 17, 20, 69, 105, 707, 729, or 826 and get off at Tiantan Ximen (West Gate) Station.
Take bus 6, 34, 35, 36 (环), 106, 110, 687, 707, or 743 and get off at Tiantan Beimen (North Gate) Station.
 Beijing Bus / Subway Search

Recommended Itineraries:

 Nearby it, there are many interesting places to see. Taoranting Park is few blocks west of it. Beijing Museum of Natural History is next to the west gate. Get out of Tiantan Dongmen Subway Station of Line 5 from Exit A, you can see the Hongqiao Pearl Market on the other side of the road.