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The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven

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The Temple of Heaven is a religious altar complex that was constructed during the Ming Dynasty as a place of prayer for the Emperor of China. The Emperors from the Ming and Qing Dynasties would come here annually to ask the gods for good harvest and make sacrifices. The Temple of Heaven was built between 1406 and 1420 under the guidance of the Yongle Emperor, who also designed the Forbidden City. The Temple of Heaven is a Taoist temple and in 1998 was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The architecture and layout of the Temple of Heaven is based on elaborate Taoist symbolism. The complex is designed in the shape of a circle. The northern half of the circle is meant to represent the heavens; whereas the southern part represents the earth.

The most iconic building in the Temple of Heaven is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Standing on a three-tiered marble base, this wooden building is circular in construction and was built without the use of a single nail. Other buildings within the Temple of Heaven complex include the smaller, circular Imperial Vault of Heaven.

The temple complex is located in extensive grounds containing gardens, trees and walkways. Here you will see the many groups of local people that gather here every day to sing folk songs, practice Tai-Chi and sword dancing, play chess or just come to sit and chat.

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