August 26, 2009

  The Temple of Heaven in the southern part of Beijing is China’s largest existing complex of ancient sacrificial buildings. Occupying an area of 273 hectares, it is three times the area of the Forbidden City. The major buildings include the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Imperial Vault of Heaven and Circular Mound Altar.

The Temple of Heaven was the place where the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties would worship Heaven and pray for bumper crops. The northern part of the outer surrounding wall is semi-circular in shape while the southern part square, a pattern symbolic of the ancient belief that Heaven was round and the earth square. The double surrounding wall separates the temple into two parts, the inner and outer temples with the main structures in the inner one, covering a space of 273 hectares in all.
 
Built first in 1420(the 18th year of Emperor Yongle’s reign of the Ming Dynasty), and then expanded and reconstructed during the Ming Emperor Jiajing’s reign and Qing Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the Temple of Heaven is a grand and magnificent masterpiece of architecture with a formal and solemn environment. Since the founding of New China, the government has allotted a great sum of money to protect and restore the cultural monuments there. The Temple of Heaven with its long history, deep cultural content and magnificent architectural style mirrors the ancient culture of the Orient.
 
A masterpiece of the Ming and Qing architectural art and a precious example of China’s ancient architecture, the Temple of Heaven is the largest architectural group for worshipping Heaven in the world.
The Temple of Heaven was listed as the world cultural heritage by UNESCO in 1998.

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