Is Beijing’s Temple of Heaven on Your Bucket List?
Some people make a bucket list of all the places they want to visit before they die. Some say they want to visit every continent or even every country. Others have other criteria for sites on their bucket list. For example, some people want to visit all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world.
For the last group, the Temple of Heaven built in the early 1400s is definitely one of the must-see sites in Beijing.
It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in 1998 as ‘a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations.’
Each emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was believed to be the Son of Heaven. Everything he did was done with heavenly authority.
The emperor’s special tasks happened twice a year when he camped in the Temple of Heaven complex with his retinue to pray for good harvests.
A bad harvest could signify the emperor’s loss of heaven’s favor and even endanger the stability of his reign. So you can imagine that he prayed very hard!
The Temple of Heaven complex is larger than the Forbidden City because Chinese emperors could not build homes for themselves that were larger than the earthly residence dedicated to heaven.
During those days, common people were not allowed entry to the huge park, but today everyone can enjoy it. In fact, if you visit the complex, be sure to give yourself time to watch locals as they ballroom dance, perform tai chi, play cards, or engage in various forms of light exercise.
You will probably even be asked to join them, so wear comfortable shoes.