On one of my last days, I visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It was one of the few sightseeing places I was able to go to. Before my departure, I had a whole itinerary of things I wanted to visit. But somehow, with press events and meetings to attend all day and a horrible jetlag that lasted for what felt like forever, I was only able to see this one site. I didn’t even go to the Great Wall. You can’t go to Beijing and not go to the Great Wall! That’s what everybody kept telling me, here and there, as if I had purposely skipped out on such historic landmark. Alas, it will be my nr. 1 priority the next time I visit the capital.
The Temple grounds cover 2.73 km² of parkland and comprises three main constructions: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. The Temple of Heaven is a complex of religious buildings and was visited by the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer for good harvest. In ancient China, the emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven. He and he alone had a heavenly authority and he would personally pray to heaven for good harvests that year.
They always say Beijing is most beautiful in the morning. And this certainly goes for the Temple of Heaven. Arrive early and you’ll find tai chi practitioners, people playing Chinese chess pai shou, people doing Chinese calligraphy on the grounds with nothing but a pencil and water and dancing and many other activities. It’s such a lively place! Yours truly did not feel compelled to join in on the dancing or tai chi, but hey, one day I actually might.
Temple of Heaven Beijing