Since the first week of my Beijing stay I am planning to visit the Temple of Heaven. However, only shortly before going there, I realized that it is not just one temple as I imagined but a huge park with several highlights in it. So count on spending several hours there if you want to discover it in a proper way.
To be honest, after seeing several Chinese palaces and temples, many of them started to look the same to me. That happened partially with the Temple of Heaven as well, especially when I walked through the Long Corridor that I have enjoyed so much at the Summer Palace. Still, some features were very refreshing to me.
The central place of the park is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperors of both Ming and Qing dynasty came to pray every year for good harvest results. With flower pots placed in the bottom of the temple, it looks really very fresh.
Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
Flowers form an important part of the park design in generally. Very appealing is the rose garden around which there are benches where you can sit and enjoy the view, we were not that lucky to grab one. On the photo bellow you can see a part of the rose garden and a Chinese woman holding an umbrella in the middle of the sunny day. Yes, women here are fiercely afraid of getting tanned since the more pale you look, the more posh you are.
One of the highlights of the visited complex is also a circular mound altar that looks like a rising labyrinth that will guide you to the terrace where there is a big round circle in the middle. Since Chinese people generally shout a lot, it was not so unusual to see people standing on this stone and shouting for no reason. However, later on we read a logical explanation for this practice. Actually, the alter is soundly engineered in a way that when you stand in the middle of the altar and preach, your echo will be clearly distributed around. This was very important while performing the ritual of sacrifice for the sake of good harvest so that everybody could hear the words of the person performing this act.
Circular Mound Altar
As for me, the treat of the visit to the Temple of Heaven were Chinese musicians who performed very nice music on classical Chinese instruments. Actually, there were quite a lot of them so they deserved a tag of Chinese orchestra.
Price: 35 RMB (total)
Subway: Tiantan Dongmen Station (line 5), Exit A