The Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven was the place where the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties would worship Heaven and pray for bumper crops. Built first in 1420(the 18th year of Emperor Yongle’s reign of the Ming Dynasty), and then expanded and reconstructed during the Ming Emperor Jiajing’s reign and Qing Emperor Qianlong’s reign, the Temple of Heaven is a grand and magnificent masterpiece of architecture with a formal and solemn environment. Since the founding of New China, the government has allotted a great sum of money to protect and restore the cultural monuments there. The Temple of Heaven with its long history, deep cultural content and magnificent architectural style mirrors the ancient culture of the Orient.

In the Temple of Heaven are situated such main buildings as the Hall of Prayer for Good harvests, the Hall of Heavenly Emperor, the Circular Mound, the Imperial Vault of Heaven, the Abstinence Hall, the Beamless Hall, the Long Corridor, the Longevity Pavilion in a double ring shape as well as the Echo Wall, the Three Echo Stones, and the Seven Meteoric Stones.

The Temple of Heaven is the largest architectural group for worshipping Heaven in the world. In 1961, it was listed by the State Council as ” one of the key monuments under the state protection”.In 1998, it was recognized by the UNESCO as “one of the human heritages of the world”.



The Temple of Heaven is a worthwhile visiting place in Beijing. It is much bigger than the Imperial Palace (the Forbidden City) and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2 700 000 square meters. The temple was built in 1420 A.D. in the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves “the Son of Heaven”, they dared not to build their own dwelling “Forbidden City” bigger than the dwelling for Heaven.


The Temple of Heaven is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and reflects an 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 from south to north are the Circular Terrace, the Imperial Heavenly Vault and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo Stones and Echo Wall.


the Imperial Vault of Heaven                    皇穹宇  (huáng qióng yǔ )

the Circular Mound Altar                           圜丘坛 (huán qiū tán )

the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests    祈年殿 ( qí nián diàn)

the Hall of Imperial Zenith                         皇乾殿 (huáng qián diàn)

the Hall of Abstinence                                 斋宫   (zhāi gōng)


the Echo Wall                                                  回音壁(huí yīn bì)



1.  the Temple of Heaven                                  天坛(tiān tán)

2. the Imperial Vault of Heaven                    皇穹宇  (huáng qióng yǔ )

3. the Circular Mound Altar                           圜丘坛 (huán qiū tán )

4. the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests    祈年殿 ( qí nián diàn)

5.the Hall of Imperial Zenith                         皇乾殿 (huáng qián diàn)

6. the Hall of Abstinence                                 斋宫   (zhāi gōng)

7. the Echo Wall                                                  回音壁(huí yīn bì)