The Temple of Heaven is situated in the
southern part of Beijing, about 6 Km away from the center of the city. Traditionally, this
temple was for imperial use only. It was built in 1420, covering an area of 273 hectares,
it is the one of the largest parks in Beijing.
The Temple of
Heaven was the place where the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven
and prayed for good harvests. The emperors visited the temple three times a year: on the
8th day of the first lunar month to pray for a good harvest; during the Summer Solstice to
pray for rain; and during Winter Solstice to give thanks for a good harvest. During each
ceremony, the emperors worshipped heaven and prayed for a good harvest. In addition, the
emperors also worshipped their ancestors and other natural phenomena such as the Cloud
God, Rain God and Wind God.
In imperial days, the Chinese people believed
that the sky was incircular shope and the earth was square. On the basis of this
tranditional concept, the circle was widely adopted in the design of the temple's main
building. It is in accord with people's imagination of heaven.
ceremonies each year, the Emperor left the Forbidden City through the Front Gate for the
Temple of Heaven. No common people or foreigners were allowed to watch the Emperor's
procession to the temple. They had to remain hidden behind closed doors and windows. Even
women, including the Empress, were not allowed to take part in the procession.
Click here to see the map of the Temple of Heaven