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Temple of Heaven

Located in the southwestern part of Chongwen District in the city area, Temple of Heaven was first built in 1420, in the Ming Dynasty. It was where
Temple of Heaven the emperor came every winter solstice to worship the god of heaven and to solemnly pray for a
good harvest.

The Temple of Heaven is not only the largest group of temple buildings in China, but also the
largest heaven-worshipping architecture in the world. In 1998, the Temple of Heaven was listed
as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO.

With an area of about 2,700 square kilometers, the Temple of Heaven is much bigger than
Forbidden City and a little smaller than Summer Palace. It is enclosed by a long wall. The northern
part is semicircular symbolizing Heaven and the southern part is square symbolizing Earth. This
design reflects ancient Chinese thought of “The heaven is round and the earth is square”.

The Temple of Heaven is divided by two enclosed walls into inner part and outer part. The main buildings of the Temple lie at the south and north
ends of the middle axis line of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are The Circular Mound Altar (Yuanqiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaven
(Huangqiongyu), and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo
Stones and Echo Wall. Almost all of the buildings are connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge (Danbiqiao) or called Sacred Way.

The design of the Temple of Heaven complex, true to its sacred purpose, reflects the mystical cosmological laws believed to be central to the
workings of the universe. Hence, complex logical permutations operate within its design. For example, because the number nine was considered
to be the most powerful digit, you will see that the slabs that form the Circular Mound Altar have been lain in multiples of nine. There are many such
examples of this intense numerology at play.
Temple of Heaven
In addition, there are three marvelous echo effects in the Temple of Heaven, known as three
phenomena of acoustics. They are the echo effects of the Echo Wall, the Triple-Sound Stone
and the Heavenly Heart Stone on the Circular Mound Altar.

Nowadays, number of people are performing their morning exercises there, practicing Taiji,
singing Peking-Opera, learning sword-fighting, dancing and so on.


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