Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven

Our Tour Group in Temple of Heaven
Our Tour Group in the 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 the 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), Temple of Heaven was enlarged and rebuilt during the reigns of the Ming emperor Jiajing and the Qing emperor Qianlong. In 1988, it 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), 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'.

Temple of Heaven 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
 Located in the southern part of this area, 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.
 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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

Located to the southwest of the Palace of Abstinence, the Divine Music Administration is one of the five major buildings in this scenic area. 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.
 

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 this place 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.
 

How to get to Temple of Heaven

By Bus:
South Gate: Take bus 36, 53, 122, 525, 958, Te 3, Te 11, Te 12, or Yuntong 102 to Tiantan Nanmen Station.
West Gate: Take bus 2, 17, 20, 36, 53, 71, 72, 93, 120, 622, Brt 1 or Te 11, and get off at Tiantan Ximen Station.
North Gate: Take bus 6, 34, 35, 36, 72, 106, or 110, and get off at Tiantan Beimen Station.

By Subway: Take Subway Line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station; leave from Exit A and you'll find the East Gate of the Park. 
Beijing Bus / Subway Search

Ticket Fee

Ticket Type Apr. - Oct. Nov. - Mar.
Entrance Fee CNY 15 CNY 10
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Circular Mound Altar & Echo Wall CNY 20 CNY 20
Combo Ticket 
(including the entrance fee & above attractions)
CNY 34 CNY 28
Divine Music Administration CNY 10 CNY 10
Audio Guide Position: At the four gates
Time: 8:00—17:00
Languages: Cantonese, English, Japanese, Korean, French, German, Spanish
Rental: CNY 40; CNY 100 as deposit.
 

Opening Hours

Apr. - Oct. Nov. - Mar.
Opening Hours 1. North, East, South and West Gates: 06:00 - 22:00;
2. Main attractions inside: 08:00 - 17:30;
3. Combo ticket selling stops at 16:00.
1. North, East, South and West Gates: 06:30 - 22:00;
2. Main attractions inside: 08:00 -17:00;
3. Combo ticket selling stops at 15:30.
Recommended
Time for a Visit
1.5 hours

 Nearby it, there are many interesting places to see. Taoranting Park is few blocks west of it, with Beijing Ancient Architecture Museum in between. 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. Walk north and you will see the Ming Dynasty City Wall Relics Park.

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