Sunday I took a quick trip to the Temple of Heaven with some church friends who were passing through Beijing. The Temple of Heaven is one of Beijing’s iconic sites. Like the Forbidden City, it was built in the early 1400s and used until the early 1900s. It was a temple complex where the emperor would come to pray to Heaven for a good harvest twice a year. It is unusual among Chinese temples because of its shape and color. The main structures are round, representing heaven, but built in square courtyards, representing earth. The deep blue color also represents heaven (most temples are red, which I’m sure represents something but I’m not sure what). In Chinese thought, this is a place where heaven meets earth. Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site and major tourist attraction. It sits in the middle of a large park which was full of retired people singing, dancing, playing games, and chatting.
This building, The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, is completely wooden and built without any nails. It burned down at one point after being struck by lightening, but it was rebuilt in the original style.
This temple has some amazing ceramic work! It probably shows my Americanness, but I really love the blues and greens of this temple. Red is the best, most auspicious, happiest color in China but I still love my blues and greens.
I’m really fascinated by these exquisite Chinese ceilings!
A glimpse of the path the emperor would have taken as he performed these religious rites. The emperor was the only one who could travel over that marble path down the center. As you can see, that is no longer the case.