Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Temple of Heaven

We've had such fun time here in Beijing sightseeing and it has been even more fun since we have been able to sightsee quite a bit with our friends Allie and Steve Tensmeyer. Last weekend we decided to go and see the Temple of Heaven. We had actually tried to see the Temple of Heaven on 2 other occasions, but for some reason we found ourselves unable to leave the Pearl Market shopping area directly across the street... Well, the third time's a charm and we finally made it into the gate of the Temple of Heaven this last attempt. :)

The Temple of Heaven grounds were HUGE and covered quite of bit of area. We were there for a few hours and only managed to see about 1/4 of the grounds, but we made sure to see all of the important buildings which included the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, The Imperial Vault of Heaven, and The Circular Mound Alter.

Some interesting history - "Twice a year the Emperor and all his retinue would move from the Forbidden city through Beijing to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat. No ordinary Chinese was allowed to view this procession or the following ceremony. In the temple complex the Emperor would personally pray to Heaven for good harvests. The highpoint of the ceremony at the winter solstice as performed by the Emperor on the Earthly Mount. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed; it was widely held that the smallest of mistakes would constitute a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year."

Most of the buildings at the Temple of Heaven were originally built in the 15th century but due to fire caused by lightening, some have been rebuilt with the most recent being in the late 1800's.

The Temple of Prayer for Good Harvest
Inside the Echo Wall - I love all of the umbrellas being used on a blue-sky day :)
From the Circular Mound Alter looking at some of the grounds
Absolutely amazing!

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