Temple Of Heaven Park

Travel route: Bird's Nest ==> Temple of Heaven

By bus: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=39.879955291748,116.406036376953&q=Temple+of+heaven+Beijing&spn=0.015205,0.038624&t=h&z=16&lci=com.panoramio.all,com.youtube.all,org.wikipedia.en,transit

Time: +/- 25 minutes
Distance: 18 km

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Temple Of Prayer

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Link naar document over temple of good harvest

Temple Of Abstinence

Palace of Abstinence is where the Emperor went to pray and fast before conducting the ceremony for the good harvest on the winter solstice (Winterzonnewende: dag met de langste nacht) in the Temple of Heaven. For three days the Emperor could not eat meat or drink wine, have contact with women and take care of legal matters.

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The Palace of Abstinence was built on 1420 and covers an area of 40,000 square meters. It is square in shape and covered with green tiles (tegels), symbolizing the Emperor’s obedience to heaven. Among the rooms inside are the Beamless Hall, the bed chambers, a belfry (belfort)and a stone pavilion housing a bronze statue representing justice and righteousness and rooms for guards, servants and eunuchs. The palace is surrounded by a double wall.

Imperial Vault and Echo Wall

The Imperial Vault was used to store the treasures and tablets used in the Worshiping Heaven Ceremony. It was originally built in 1530 and rebuilt in 1752. Its structure is made from wood and brick with a blue tiled roof that is topped with a gilded (verguld) ball. It is 19. 5 meters high.

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Two chambers located at the front of the Imperial Vault of Heaven contained different tablets used for worship. The left chamber contained tablets of the gods of basic elements including gold, wood, water, fire and earth. The right chamber contained tablets of gods of natural phonemena including wind, rain, thunder, lightning and so on.

The Echo Wall surrounds the Imperial Vault. It has a height of 3.7 meters and a circumference of 193 meters. It is named for its acoustical properties - a whisper spoken at one end can be heard clearly from the other. The Triple Echo Stones in the courtyard return various numbers of echos.

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Temple of Heaven

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The Temple of Heaven Park has two altars, namely, the Altar of Heaven and the Altar of Prayer for Harvest.
The Altar of Heaven or Circular Mound Altar (“YuanQiuTan”) is an outdoor empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones.
It was constructed in 1530 (Ming Dynasty) and enlarged in 1749 (Qing Dynasty). It was regarded as the center of the earth and consists of three marble tiers, representing (from the top down): heaven, earth and man. The altar represents also communication with heaven.

This altar was build for religious purposes, especially for ceremonies to pray for rain by the emperor in times of drought. During the Ming and Qing Dynasty, the emperors would offer sacrifices to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. Sacrificial animals and other offerings were burned here to ensure good harvests. A common animal slaughtered here was the bull, which the people would set on fire as a sacrifice of prosperity. This ceremony was to thank Heaven and pray that everything would be good in the future.

The altar is surrounded by two walls. The round inner wall represents heaven while the square outer wall represents earth.

The Circular Mound Altar is special in the sense that the architecture of the place circulates around the number 9 (f.e. the number of pillars in each section is a multiple of 9). To understand why the people of China back then chose the number 9, we must look at the concept Yin-Yang. In Yin-Yang, Yin represents the even numbers and Yang represents the odd numbers. 9, being the largest 1-digit odd number, is considered “extremely yang”. This number has to many meanings, so I'll just give you one out of the top 100. It represents for example the Chinese Dragon, and the dragon represents the emperor.

In the centre of the upper terrace is the Heaven's Heart Stone which is surrounded by concentrically arranged flag-stones. There are 9 stones in the first circle, 18 in the second, 27 in the third. It continues in this manner up to the ninth circle, which has 81 stones. The middle and bottom terraces also have 9 circles each. The total number of the marble flagstones on the surface is 3,402.
During each ceremony, the Shrine of God was placed on the Central Supreme Stone which is the Heaven’s Heart Stone, which symbolized that God lived above the “Nine Heaven”.

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