The Temple of Heaven Park, the biggest of Beijing’s Parks, renowned for its 15th century architecture. The circular blue tiled, triple gabled roof of the Temple of Heaven (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest) is an amazing wooden temple constructed without a single nail. It is 38 metres high, 30 metres in diameter and is completely and perfectly balanced by wooden pillars. It is a very symbolic architectural complex representative of Chinese culture and tradition.
The Long Corridor leads to the Temple of Heaven where offerings are made on the eve of the sacrificial ceremony. Today it is a place for the elderly to get together. The Chinese people sit happily reading, playing cards or dominoes, knitting (men and women), and playing musical instruments. In the park area itself, people were practicing Tia chi, ballroom dancing, ribbon dancing and other activities.
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a single-gabled circular building built on a single level of marble stone base. It is south of the Temple of Heaven surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, which can send sounds over a distance. The Imperial Vault connected to the Temple of Heaven by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360 meter long raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Imperial Vault of Heaven to the Temple of Heaven.
Located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven is the Circular Mound Alter. It is built on three-layered terraces of white marble. The carved balustrades have 360 pillars representing the days of the lunar year. There is a centre stone known as the ‘Heavenly Centre Stone’, here the Emperor prayed for favorable weather for a good harvest.
The complex is built to symbolize the connection of Heaven and Earth, with the earth represented by a square and heaven by a circle. The blue tiles also represent Heaven. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar are round; both are standing on a square yard, again representing Heaven and Earth. The number nine is also significant as it represents the Emperor and is evident in the design of the Circular Mound Altar.