Temple of Heaven 天坛

Took the metro subway(RMB2) to visit the Temple of Heaven. Admission fee : RMB 35/person + RMB 10 for guide book.

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Seventy-Year-Old Door

In 1779, when Hong Li (Emperor Qianlong) was 70 years old, he felt his health was going to fail him so th officials of the Ministry of Rituals suggested opening a small door in the surrounding wall west of the Imperial Hall of Heaven so as to shorten the distance of his walk to the ceremony. The emperor gladly accepted it. However, Emperor Qianlong, out of the fear that his offspring would follow his suit and abuse this convenience, issued a decree stating, “From now on only only he among my offspring could enter and exit by this door who has reached the age of 70 years old”. It was therefore named the Seventy-Year-Old Door. Afterwards, of the successive emperors of the Qing Dynasty no one reached such age and so Qianlong was the only person in history who has used this door.

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The Imperial Hall of Heaven was “the Heavenly Warehouse” of the Altar of Prayer for Grains. The tablet of “the God of Heaven” and the tablets of the emperor’s ancestors to be displayed and worshipped during the ceremony held in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests were here. The day before the ceremony the emperor came here in person to burn incense sticks and perform the divine greetings for the transference, and then the officials of the Ministry of Rituals transferred the tablets to their appropriate places in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. With a square roof and eaves in four directions covered with blue glazed tiles, the hall was first built in 1420 (the 18th year of Ming Emperor Yongle’s reign), and the hall placard bears an inscription in the handwriting of Zhu Houcong, Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty.

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The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

Built in 1420 (the 18th year of Emperor Yongle’s reign of the Ming Dynasty), the original hall, rectangular in shape, was first named the great Hall of Sacrificial Rituals used to worship both Earth and Heaven. Rebuilt in 1545 (the 24th year of Emperor Jiajing’s reign) into a round hall with a triple-eaved roof, each covered with blue, yellow and green glazed tiles respectively, symbolyzing Heaven, Earth and the mortal world, it was renamed the Great Hall for Offering Sacrifices. Reconstructed in 1751 (the 16th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign of the Qing Dynasty), it was surmounted by a triple roof with a azure glazed tiles only, culminating in a glided sphere, and designated the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, exclusively used to pray for good harvests in early spring (in January). 38.2 metres in height and 24.2 metres in diametre, the hall is supported by immense pillars, symbolizing the four seasons, the 12 months of the year, the 12 time divisions of the day and night, and all the constellations. It is the only existing example of the ancient architectural style of Mingdang.

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Firewood Stove

The Firewood Stove is a huge round green glazed brick stove. Before the ceremony of worshipping Heaven began, a clearly washed and shaved calf was put on the stove and burned with pine twigs and reeds in order to welcome the God of Heaven – a ritual of Giving a Warm Welcome to the Imperial God by Burning Firewood. After the ceremony was completed, all the offerings, and ceremonial placards and silk scrolls were transferred to the stove with great respect and to be burnt while the emperor stood by watching the process – a ritual called “Observation of the Burning”.

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Burning Stove

It is an iron stove for burning the offering. 8 stoves placed here were used to burn the offerings placed in front of the tablets of the first 8 generations of the Qing Emperors worshipped as the accessory deities.

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The Imperial Vault of Heaven

Built in 1530 (the 9th year of the Emperor jiajing’s reign of the Ming dynasty), in a round shape with a double-eaved roof, and named first the Hall for Appeasing Gods, it was the main hall of the Celestial Treasure House of the Circular Mound Altar, housing the Gods’ tablets to be used at the ceremony of worshipping Heaven. It was renamed the Imperial Vault in 1538 (the 17th year of Emperor Jiajing’s reign) and rebuilt into the present shape in 1752 (the 17th year of Emperor Qianlong’s reign of the Qing Dynasty). 19.5 metres in height and 15.6 metres in diametre, the hall is a finely interlaced wooden structure with a blue tile roof crowned with a glided sphere, looking elegant and majestic. It has a coffered ceiling with a bluish green design of a ceiling glided dragon playing with a pearl at the centre. It is indeed a masterpice of ancient architecture of China.

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Temple of Heaven 天坛

Address : Beijing, China

Website : http://www.tiantanpark.com/cn/

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