Another week passes by, another day exploring Beijing. Actually, everyone is so busy studying every day, we barely have time to explore. At least Beijing has many attractions, especially cultural, especially in and around the center. Speaking of which, the Heavenly Temple lies in the center of Beijing, near the Forbidden City. Specifically, it lies in the southeastern part of central Beijing, in Dongcheng 东城(dōngchéng). First, let’s talk about history.
The temple was constructed between 1406 and 1420, under the reign of the Yongle Emperor 永乐(yǒnglè). In case you don’t know, he was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City (post coming soon). It wasn’t until the 16th century that the temple was extended and named the “Heavenly Temple” under the Jiajing Emperor 嘉靖(jiājìng). It was then renovated during the 18th century under the Qianling emperor.
Onto the layout. The “Temple of Heaven” is actually a complex of religious buildings. There are three main buildings: the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvest 祈年殿(qíniájiàn), the Imperial Vault of Heaven 皇穹宇(huángqiǒngyǔ), and the Circular Mound Altar 圜丘坛(huánqiūtán). The main attraction, and what you pay the most money for, is the Hall of Prayer. This day, the heavens decided to rain down on us (good for harvest I guess?), so we only went to the Hall of Prayer.
First, let me talk about the atmosphere. The Temple of Heaven actually opened up as a park in 1918, so a lot of people actually go there to relax and chat. I saw many people and their families, people playing Chinese chess, and people walking their birds (yes, that’s an actual thing). At the Hall of Prayer, we climbed a bunch of steps to the top. We had the choice to line up to enter the temple to pray, but the line was ridiculously long. I’ll speak up to here and let the pictures speak for themselves. Stay tuned for more posts next week.