of Heaven is located in southeast Beijing and was completed in 1420, but
has been expanded over the years by two Qing Dynasty Emperors. Qinian
Hall, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, with the three blue tiled
cone shaped roofs, has become a worldwide symbol of Beijing. It was hit
by lightning in 1889 and completely restored. No nails or pegs were used
in the original construction nor in the restoration.
Ming and Qing Emperors traveled each year from the Forbidden City to the
Temple of Heaven on the winter solstice and in the first month of the
lunar calendar to worship, offer sacrifices to heaven, and to pray for
good harvests. The Temple of Heaven area is larger than the Forbidden
City. Not to be missed.
Begin your visit early to the area of the parks surrounding the buildings
to watch people doing their early morning Tai Chi exercises, also known
as shadow boxing, or watch the many couples ballroom dancing. If you are
lucky you may stumble on older gentlemen entertaining their friends with
Peking Opera selections, or you might see an owner taking his songbird
in cage to the park to greet the morning with his song.