The Temple of Heaven, which was constructed between 1406 and 1420, was originally called the Temple of Heaven and Earth. It was given its present name later on between 1522 and 1567 because Ming Emperor JiaJing ended up building separate complexes for the Earth, the Sun and the Moon during that time period. The Temple of Sun is located in the east, Temple of Earth in the north and the Temple of Moon is located in the west.
The Temple of Heaven is not only the largest of the four temples located in Beijing but also the largest in the world that makes a sacrificial offering to heaven. It is truly a masterpiece and represents the work of many buildings in China. The Temple covers an area of 2,700,000 square meters and hence, it’s larger than the Forbidden City (Palace Museum). This Temple is divided into an inner and an outer part and the three main buildings in the Temple of Heaven Park are Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. The Temple was turned into a park in 1918, which attracted a large number of visitors and UNESCO recognized it as a World Heritage Site in 1998.
Since the number 9 is considered sacred in China, there is a significance of this number in regards to the temple where it can be found at various places in the architecture. For instance, there are nine steps in each of the three tiers of the staircases made of white marbles.
Temple of Heaven Map
Facts about Temple of Heaven
- The Temple of Heaven Park has a tree which is over 600 years old.
- Between the years 1420 (the year of its completion) and 1911 (the end of the Qing Dynasty) there had been a total of 654 sacrifices made to Heaven at this temple.
- The park today is a great way for tourists to witness the ways in which the retired population in China makes use of their time.
- There are open areas for the kids where they can run around and fly kites.
Where is Temple of Heaven?
The Temple of Heaven is located in southeastern Beijing in the Xuanwu District. You could take subway line 5 to Tiantan Dongmen Station and then take exit A to get to the site.
Best time to visit Temple of Heaven
There is no good or bad time to visit Beijing and its major attractions are open year-round but its advisable to visit the Temple of Heaven in the spring and autumn because the summer wouldn’t guarantee any shade and the winter would be too lonely. The Temple is open from 0800 hours till 1700 hours and the park itself is open for longer. You could get there at 0700 hours especially on a Sunday morning to see the elderly doing their exercises.
Nearby Attractions : Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, Ming City Wall Site, Ancient Architecture Museum.