Temple of Heaven at the east outer side of Zhengyangmen Gate was built in the year 1420 in the Ming Dynasty. In the Ming and the Qing Dynasties, emperors did worship to Heaven and worship for harvest here. In the year 1998, Temple of Heaven was listed as the World’s Cultural Heritage. Correspondingly, there is also a Temple of Earth in Beijing where emperors did their worship to Earth in the Ming and the Qing Dynasties. Now the Temple of Earth is built as a public park. But the Temple of Earth is much less famous than the Temple of Heaven.
There are two layers of surrounding walls of Temple of Heaven. The two layers of walls are both built in square shape in south and round shape in north in the ancient faith of hemispherical dome cosmology. Temple of Heaven is famous for its precise layout, unique building structure and colorful and beautiful decoration. The total area of temple of heaven is divided into two parts: the inner temple and the outer temple. The major structures are collectively in the inner temple area. In south part there are Yuanqiu Temple and Huangqiong Temple. In north part there are Qinian Temple and Huangqian Temple. The structures in south and north part are connected with the Bridge Danbi. The outer temples bears many ancient pine trees. The highlight of outer temple is the wall built according to principles of acoustics. They are Echo Wall, Triple Echo Stones, and Dialog Stone.
Circular Mound Altar is the place where the ceremony of worship to heaven held on winter solstices. The main architectures are circular mound, imperial heavenly vault, and side halls, sacrificial animals room, etc. The Circular Mound was built with three layers in a round shape to symbolize Heaven. The Mound has a height of 5017 meters and a bottom diameter of 54.92 meters and top diameter of 23.65 meters. The specific 9 layers of stairs will lead you from the lower layer to the next higher layers of the Mound. The Mount top is a round stone surrounded with 9 circles of fan-shaped stone slabs. And the most inner circle are paved with nine stone slabs.
Imperial Heavenly Vault architecture blocks to the north of Circular Mound Altar is the spot to keep the shrine figures or boards. The Imperial Heavenly Vault is supported by 16 pillars. The famous Triple Echo Stones are just in Imperial Heavenly Vault. There are three stone slabs to create the triple echoes. If you clamp your hand on the first slab, you will hear one echo. If you clamp your hand on the second slab, you will hear two echoes and stamping on the third stone you will hear three echoes. The Echo Wall are also built within Imperial Heavenly Vault. The wall is 3.72 meters tall and 0.9 meters thick. People talk to the north wall in low voice and the other people in south wall will hear what been said.
Harvest Worship Palace is the place where Emperors prayed for harvest in spring. The base of the palace is built in 3 layers with a height of 5.6 meters. The diameter at bottom is 91 meters, at waist the diameter is 80 meters and at top the diameter is 68 meters. The Palace is built in a round shape with a height of 38 meters and a diameter of 32.7 meters.
There are still many other palaces worthy of visiting in the building complex of Temple of Heaven. A visit to Temple of heaven will help you know more about the architectural culture and the feudal ceremonies of the last two feudal dynasties in China.