The Temple of Heaven is a large, popular park with some iconic religious buildings, including the famous Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It is a nice area to visit and walk around with a guide as it has been home to some interesting history. With a guide, you will learn that this now park used to be home to imperial rituals during the Ming and Qing dynasties and was also used post these dynasties when usurpers tried to claim the Mandate of Heaven, e.g. Yuan Shikai in 1914.
The Temple of Heaven is a temple ground that was built and completed in 1420. The Temple of Heaven isn’t just one building, rather it is an entire park complex with lots of iconic buildings/temples. Each of the main temples have a distinctive circular shape. If you do visit, it is recommended that you visit the three key buildings: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.
From appearances, the Temple of Heaven happens to be a popular park in central Beijing.
Interestingly, the Temple of Heaven underwent restoration in early 2005 to mid-2006 for it to be ready for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Historically, this temple ground was visited by the Ming and Qing emperors for their annual ceremonies and they would visit the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests to pray annually to heaven for a good harvest.
On 23 December 1914, the then President of the Republic of China, Yuan Shikai, visited the temple grounds to perform a Ming prayer ceremony and made his intent known that he wanted to declare himself Emperor of China. His reign would be very short-lived and he is not well regarded in the pages of history.
On the day we visited, Beijing was overcast and slightly cold. We thought the sky was just covered in pollution. (In Beijing, they provide both the weather and pollution forecast, which to me based in Australia is very odd.) The park grounds looked busy during the midday with groups of local and foreign tourists.
There was no issue getting around the place and there didn’t seem to be any restriction on where we could walk. Our tour guides that were arranged by Nexus Holidays gave us ear pieces so that they could talk about the temple grounds while we walked around. (This was quite good, as it meant we could focus our attention elsewhere while we listened to the history.)
The structures and buildings were all well preserved and very clean. Though there was lots of trees. I felt that the area had a very concrete jungle feel to it. (Perhaps due to the amount of concrete/stone slabs surrounding the Hall of Player for Good Harvest.) I would also recommend visiting and looking under the arches to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The detail and workmanship is incredible.
If you are visiting the Temple of Heaven, I am told that the ideal starting point is from the southern gate.
The Temple of Heaven is located at 1 Tiantan E Rd, Dongcheng, China, 100061:
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