Day 1: Temple of Heaven — The Magnificent Combination of Religious Buildings and Landscape

After one-night sleep on the normal fast train T110, the first day of our Beijing trip started at 9:30 am on Nov 5, 2012 when we arrived at Beijing Railway Station. We heard that it was snowing the night before in Beijing. How nice to see some snow since Shanghai barely barely snows! It turned out to be a sunny day. No complaints. There was still some accumulation of snow here and there though. How did we feel? COLD!

Snow from the night before outside of Beijing Railway Station

Headed directly to Days Inn Forbidden City Hotel and checked in. What’s the plan for the rest of the day then? We climbed onto the comfortable bed in our room and started planning for the afternoon. Among all the places we wanted to check out, what’s close by plus doesn’t require a full day of time? Great Wall? Not possible! Tian’anmen Square and Forbidden City? They are literally right there within 5 minutes walk away from our hotel. We could save the visit for later. Pass! Summer Palace? A little too far. Pass! Temple of Heaven?! Yes, Temple of Heaven it is!

Quick Guide

  • Location – Southeastern part of central Beijing; metro line 5 Tiantandongmen Station
  • How did we get there – Took line 1 at Wangfujing Station and changed to line 5 at Dongdan Station (1 stop); Got off at Tiantandongmen Station (4 stops)
  • Admission fee – RMB30.00 for through ticket including entrance fee; RMB10.00 for entrance fee only, but you will still have to buy tickets in order to get into the main spots inside. Through ticket is recommended in this case.
  • Opening time – 8am — 5pm

Location of Temple of Heaven (click the image to see the location in Google Maps)

Temple of Heaven – Altar of Heaven

Originally built from 1406 to 1420, Temple of Heaven was visited by Emperors of Ming and Qing dynastics for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The complex was named Temple of Heaven during Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century. In the 18th century under Qianglong Emperor, the complex experienced a large-scale renovation and was first time opened to public as a park in 1918.

The entire complex is composed with three main spots-

  • The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
  • The Imperial Vault of Heaven
  • The Circular Mound Altar

Let’s see how Temple of Heaven looks like nowadays!

Entered into the park through the east gate where the subway station is at, The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was not far down to the Long Corridor. We walked along the corridor and saw tons of people gathering around the bench. What were they doing? We surprisingly found out that these local people were grouped up playing poker when we got close. Guess us tourists all got fascinated by the fact so we started shooting photos…

Poker groups on the Long Corridor inside the park

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a three-level circular where the Emperor prayed for good harvests.

The Imperial Vault of Heaven, smaller than The Hall of Prayer, is a single-gabled circular building surrounded by a smooth circular wall known as the Echo Wall, which can transmit sounds over long distances.

Iron Burning Stoves to the east of Circular Mound, which is an empty circular platform.

Other than the historical buildings, the park itself is a great peaceful place to get some fresh air and exercise. We were fond of the landscape inside the park and wandered around till the sun was slowly going down…

The bird chilling on the roof

Park view

Sunset at Temple of Heaven park

The area size of the entire park land is 2.73 square kilometers, which in other words, the park is HUGE! Preparing for a good half day (ideally afternoon) for visiting Temple of Heaven is definitely necessary. Also spending a whole day there if you have food prepared wouldn’t be a surprise either.

Well, that’s a pretty good start of the trip. Going to share about our visit to Summer Palace and Yuanmingyuan Park next time. Before that, we have more photos of Temple of Heaven to show you here. Enjoy and see you soon!

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