China

Temple of Heaven

 

 

 

The magnificent Temple of Heaven, located south of the Forbidden City in Beijing, was built during the Ming dynasty in 1420.  It was the site where the emperors came to worship the God of Heaven and to sacrifice animals and pray for a good harvest.

 

The architectural design of the Temple as well as the ceremony and associated music were based on ancient beliefs relating numbers and spatial organization to the Chinese philosophies regarding Heaven and its relationship to people on Earth. The location of the spectacular Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was set by the emperor’s Fengshui masters as the point where Heaven and Earth meet.

 

The compound consists of 92 buildings with 600 rooms, and is the world’s largest existing building complex for offering sacrifice to Heaven.  It is divided by two walls into the inner and outer alters. The northern part is circular while the southern part is square, based on the ancient Chinese belief that Heaven is round and the Earth is square.  When standing at the Zhaoheng Gate in the south, people on the alter are so high that they appear to be walking in Heaven.  The upper tier of the Circular Alter is ornamented with 9 stone rings, representing their belief that there are nine layers to Heaven.  To the west of the alters is the Hall of Abstinence where the emperor fasted after making a sacrifice. 

 





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