Monday, February 12, 2007

Temple of Heaven

...天坛 Tian Tan

What you need might want to know about Temple of Heaven or more specifically the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvest (Qi2Nian2Dian4) which is the crown of the whole complex:

  • Has become a symbol of Beijing
  • Set on a 267 ha (660-acre) park
  • Completed in 1420 where the FengShui masters determined that is was the exact point where Heaven and Earth met
  • Burn to cinders in 1889; a faithful reproduction based on Ming architecture methods was erected the following year using fir from Oregon for the support pillars
  • The 38m (125ft) high vault was slotted together without using a single nail
  • Built for the view of god and seen from above; temples are round with the bases square, a pattern deriving from the ancient Chinese belief that Heaven is round and Earth is square.
  • Decorated in blue, yellow and green glazed tiles representing Heaven, Earth and the Mortal World
  • The 4 central pillars symbolize the seasons, the 12 in the next ring denote the months, the 12 outer ones represent the day broken into 12 traditional Chinese hours, the 28 columns match the 28 Chinese constellations and the circumference of the uppermost roof is 30 zhang, the number of days in the lunar month
  • The emperor would make sacrifices and pray to heaven and his ancestors at the winter solstice
  • Off limit to the common people during Ming* and Qing* Dynasties.

Hall of Prayer of Good Harvest


Great Clear Day (for once!!)

*Ming Dynasty: 1368-1644 ; Qing Dynasty: 1644-1911

Sources: Lonely planet, National Geographic, Frommers, Eyewitness Travel Guides and Insider’s Guide