Took the subway to the Temple of Heaven, constructed 1406-1420 under the Yongle Emperor (3rd in Ming Dynasty). Twice a year, the Ming and Qing Emperors would make offerings at the Temple in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The Temple grounds cover about one square mile, larger than the Forbidden City, showing greater honor to Heaven.
We entered through the south gate.
After all the rectangular buildings and pointed corner eaves we’ve seen, the main buildings for sacrifices at the Temple of Heaven are round, reflecting the “roundness” of heaven.
More gates to reach the Circular Mound Altar:
Blue-glazed tiles on the gate:
Green-glazed Firewood Stove, used to burn the offerings: The Circular Mound Altar is open, three-layered, with stones laid in multiples of 9 (the Emperor’s number). That round raised stone in the center is the Heaven Heart Stone. The architecture is designed so that the sound waves from someone speaking on that stone will be clearly amplified.
From the top level of the altar, you can see the roof of the next building in the complex.
From the TravelChinaGuide: The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a round pavilion with a double-eave roof sitting on a two-meter-tall white marble platform. From a distance, the Vault is like a blue umbrella with gold head. Stone fences enclose the platform. 62 feet in height and 52 feet in diameter, the hall is a finely interlaced wooden structure with a blue tile roof crowned with a gilded sphere. It has a coffered ceiling with a bluish green design of a gilded coiling dragon playing with a pearl at the center, and another 360 small dragons around. In the middle of the hall stands a circular stone seat carved with patterns, on which the Heavenly Great Tablet is placed.
The Vault is surrounded by the Echo Wall, a round wall which is reported to resonate with echoes if you stand on one Echo Stone by the wall to listen and your friend stands on another Echo Stone and whispers at the wall.
On through the next gates…
… to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests:
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a circular building 105 feet in diameter and 125 feet high, atop a huge round white marble 3-floor platform. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has three layers of eaves; each layer is covered with blue colored glaze symbolizing heaven. The layer-by-layer eave creates an atmosphere of getting closer to heaven.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a masterpiece of wood frame construction. Inside the hall there is no beam, but 28 Phoebe columns and 36 pieces of interconnected squared rafters.