Temple of Heaven, Beijing Tiantan
a UNESCO world cultural heritage, the Altar of Heaven, the place where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather and ample harvest, historical relics
Situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing, in Chongwen District about 6 km away from the center city, the Temple of Heaven is China’s largest existing complex of ancient sacrificial buildings. Covering an area of 273 hectares, it is nearly four times the area of the Forbidden City. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D, during the Ming Dynasty, and the place where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather and ample harvest.
Chinese emperors recognized the Temple as ‘the Son of Heaven’, so they dared not to build the ‘Forbidden City’, the home of the emperors, bigger than the home for Heaven.
Highlights of the Temple of Heaven
The Altar of Prayer for Good Harvest
The Circular Alter has three layered terraces with white marble. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emperors would offer sacrifice to Heaven here on the day of the Winter Solstice every year.
Imperial Vault of Heaven
If you look at the Imperial Vault of Heaven, you will find that it is like a blue umbrella with gold head. The structure of it is like that of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, but smaller in size.
The Vermilion Steps Bridge
It connects the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest and the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The emperors in the past believed that they could go to Heaven through this bridge, so named it as the Sacred Way.
There are three echo stones outside of the gate of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. If you speak facing the Vault while standing on the first stone, you will hear one echo; standing on the second or the third stone, you will hear two or three echoes respectively.
The echo wall encloses the Imperial Vault of Heaven, with a perimeter of 193 meters. If you and your friend stand at the east and the west roofs of the wall respectively and you whisper a word, then your friend will hear clearly what you say. Interesting?
Location: 6 kilometers away from Beijing center
Opening Hours: 6:00 22:00
How to Get there
Subway: Take the subway line 5; get off at Tiantan Dongmen Station
Buses: Take bus no. 6, 34, 35, 36, 39, 41, 43, 60, 116, 610, 707, 723, 743, 957, or 958 and get off at Tiantan Dongmen Station
Weather/Best Time to Go
Beijing enjoys the humid continental climate with hot humid summers, cold dry winters, shorter spring and autumn. You can have a Beijing tour any time of the year, because it can give fresh feeling by enjoying the special tour of the four seasons.
Spring, summer and autumn are all the best time of year to visit. If you want to see more of this, it is best to go early in the morning, since most locals come here for morning exercise and the like.
- Visit the Temple of Heaven in the early morning, and you can practice with the local people who practice all kinds of Kung Fu and Taichi.
- You are suggested to visit Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven in one day of your Beijing tour.
Recommended Beijing tours including Temple of Heaven
- 1 Day Beijing Classic Tour from US$39
- 2 Days Soul of Beijing Tour from US$209
- 3 Days Beijing Essence City Break from US$290
- 4 Days Classic Beijing Tour Package from US$327
- 5 Days Experience the Real Traditional Hutong Life from US$445
- 6 Days In-depth Great Wall Experience Tour from US$598
- 7 Days Beijing Side Trip to Chengde from US$679