How to get to the Temple of Heaven: Back on the sidewalk, you will be standing at foot of the Yuting Bridge. Yuting means “Jade Dragonfly” in Chinese. Go along under the bridge for several minutes, and turn left after you cross the river. You are then on Yongdingmen Dongjie (or Yongdingmen East Street). Going ahead (westward) for about five minutes, you will find the South Gate of the Temple of Heaven, on your right.The ticket office is on the right side of the entrance gate.
But let’s first get some background knowledge about this historic site. The Temple of Heaven was originally built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle during the Ming Dynasty.
As the largest existing ancient architectural complex in the world, it covers a total surface area of 273 hectares. To symbolize heaven and earth better, the northern part of the Temple is circular, and the southern part is square.
The entrance ticket costs 15 yuan, a “through ticket” 35 yuan. I recommend you pay the 35 yuan (EUR 3, USD 4): you will get access to all there is to see: the Circular Mound Altar, the Echo Wall, and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The visiting route is simple: all you need to do is go straight ahead (northward) until you reach the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.
The whole compound is enclosed by two walls, a square wall outside a round one: the ancient Chinese believed that Heaven was round,and the Earth square. Since thefounding of New China,the government has allotteda great sum of money toprotect and restore the Temple of Heaven.With its long history, profound cultural connotation, and magnificent architectural style, the Temple of Heaven has been listed as part of the World Heritage by the UNESCO in 1998.
Looking ahead from the South Gate, you can catch sight of the key points of cultural interest straight ahead. The first one to greet you is the Circular Mound Altar that was used to worship Heaven at the winter solstice. Its primary construction is a large round marble terrace called the Circular Mound.
The Circular Mound Altar is enclosed by two walls, each containing four groups of Southern Lattice Star Gate, each in turn consisting of three gates, in all 24 marble gates.
the sound will echo once; on the second one, the sound will be heard twice; and on the third one, the sound will repeat three times. Standing on the passage facing north, notice that the two gates flanking the central one are narrower.
This reflects the feudal hierarchy: the wider gate was reserved for monarchs, the narrower used by ministers.
The Altar comprises three levels of terraces. You access each of them climbing a flight of 9 steps. At the center of the top terrace lies a round stone surrounded by 9 concentric rings of stone. The number of stones in the first ring is 9, in the second 18, up to 81 in the 9th ring. Even the number of carved balustrades on these terraces is a multiple of 9. According to ancient Chinese philosophy, nine was the largest heavenly number accessible to man, and Heaven consisted of nine layers, and the Emperor’s abode was on the uppermost tier. The stone in the very middle of the altar was of major importance, since it was where the emperor used to stand to say his prayer. The stone, which is known as the God’s Heart Stone, is peculiar in that it is characterized by a specific acoustic phenomenon: it made the emperor’s voice clearer and louder, thus adding to the mystic atmosphere of the service. You can have a try by yourself.
Continue northward, you will reach two structures with peculiar acoustic features. One is the Echo Wall, the other the Three Echo Stones. A mere whisper at any point close to the Echo Wall can be heard clearly on the other side, although the parties may be 40 or 50 meters apart. This is made possible because the wall is round and hermetically constructed with smooth, solid bricks. As for the Three Echo Stones, if you stand on the first stone and call out or clap your hands,
Past these extraordinary constructions, you will walk on the Red Stairway Bridge (or Danbi Qiao in Chinese) which leads you to the next altar. It is 360 meters long, 28 meters wide. Its south end is one meter high, and the north end three meters high. The gradually ascending bridge, which is the single central axis, means going to Heaven step by step.
The passage is divided into left, central and right paths by the cross arrangement of slabs. The central and the widest path was reserved exclusively for God, and nobody including the emperor was allowed to set foot onto it. The emperor used the path on the east, which is known as the Imperial Walk. Ministers and princes used the one on the west. Interesting enough, there is no walkway left for ordinary people. This is because the Temple of Heaven used to be off-limits to them.
Through the Red Stairway Bridge, you will get to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the Temple’s main building, also the symbol of the City of Beijing. The emperors used to pray for bumper crops at this hall. The round hall, which is 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, features triple eaves and a cone-shaped deep blue tile roof crowned with a gilded knob. Surrounding the hall is a six-meter high spacious circular stone terrace on three levels, each edged by a balustrade of carved white marble.
One cannot but be profoundly impressed by this magnificent ancient architecture
Stepping eastward from the eastern gate of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, you will enter a 300-meter-long corridor consisting of 72 sections. This corridor served as a connecting building between the Slaughter House, the Heaven Kitchen, and the main hall. Flanking the corridor are vendor stalls where you can purchase souvenirs.
ontinue eastward, you will get out of the park from its Eastern Gate. This walk ends here. To return to your starting point, just turn left outside the gate. Soon, you will find the TianTanDongMen subway station entrance on your left-hand side.
Photo on the Right : Long corridor of the Temple of Heaven, this is the palace for the local people to kill some time. You will find people sing and doing all kinds of avtivity.
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