1. Even though the Temple of Heaven was not built until the 15th Century, the site has been used for religious rituals since the Zhou Dynasty(1122BC-256BC).
2. As well as building separate Temples of Heaven and Earth, Emperor Jiajing also commissioned the Temple of the Sun ( Ritan Park ) in the east of the city, and the Temple of Moon(Yuetan Park ) in the west. The emperor usedx to worship the God of the Sun at Ritan at the enclosed incense burnerspring equinox and the God of the Moon at Yuetan on the autumn equinox.
3. The Qinian hall ws built without using a single nail and has 50.000 bulue glazed tiles. The pillars in the Dragon Fountain were refurbished in 1740 using wood from US state , Oregon , after a lighting strike had damaged the building.
4. Like many a stroppy film star since thenm no one was allowed to look directly at the Emperors. During the annual procession from the Forbidden City to the Temple of Heaven to perform the winter solstice rites, people were ordered to remain indoors behind shuttered widows. No commoner had entered the park until October 1912, when the gates were thrown open to celebrate the Republic or China 's first National Day.
5. Between its completion in 1424 and the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. 22emperors made 654 sacrifices to heaven in the Temple of Heaven .
ARGUABLY ONE OF BEIJING'S finest parks, the 267 hectare Temple of Heaven Park, is located 2km to the south of Tian'anmen Square . Athe time it was built, the Temple of Heaven was called the Temple of Heaven and Earth and was used to offer sacrifices to Heaven on the winter solstice and to Earth on the summer solstice.
The layout of the park reflects the dual nature of its original role and the belief that it was the meeting place of Heaven and Earth. The ancient Chinese believed that 'heaven is round and the earth is square'. That is the reason why the northern edge of the park is semi -circular and the southern end is square . These same principles were also applied to the buildings within the park: Round temple halls sit atop square bases, as heaven is higher than the earth below.
The Temple is divided into inner and outer parts. The temple's main buildings--The Alatr of Heaven (Yuan qiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaver (Huang qiongyu) and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest(Qinian dian)--all lie along the north-south middle axis line of the inner part.
The Altar of Heaven comprises of three layere white marble terraces representing (top to bottom) heaven, earth and man, Built in 1530. it was here during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) that emperors would offier animal sacrifices to heaven, each year on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month and on the winter solstice. To pray for good harvests.
In 1530, Emperor Jiaqing thought it better to worship heaven and earth separately, for fear of angering the gods. The couple ppromptly split and went their separate ways. Earth getting its own place on the north side of town at Ditan Park . As well as building separate Temples of Heaven and Earth, Earth, Emperor Jiajing also commissioned the Temple of the Sun (Ritan Park ) in the east of the city, and the Temple of the Moon (Yuetan Park ) in the west. The emperor used to worship the enclosed incense burnerGod of the Sun at Pirtan at the spring equinox and the God of the Moon at Yuetan of the autumn equinox. The Temple of Heaven was always the largest and most importanti of the four temples.
Just north of the round altar is one of the parks architectural marvels, the Echo Wall ( Huiyinbi). The 65-mette diameter curved wall is meant to enable a whisper to travel clearly from on end to the other, though it is hared to prove as it is usually blocked by hoards of tourists. Tongues from every corner of the earth, all asking the same question' Can you hear me?'
Bouncing back to the Echo Wall,just outside the gate of the Imperial Vault of Heaven are the Three Echo Stones. If you speak facing the vault, while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; standing on the second you will hear two and on the third stone, you will hear three. It works better with clapping.
Standing at the centre of the area enclosed by echo wall is the Imperial Vault of Heaven, an octagonal tower whose golden top and blue foof reflect the architecture of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest. This brick and timber structure was also built in 1530 and used to store the 'Memorial Tablets of the Gods' stone tablets which were used in the winter solstice seremony.
Connecting the tower with the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest is the vermilion Steps Bridge , a sacered way tilted upwards at the northern end because it was thought it literally acted as a highway to heaven.