The Temple of Heaven in Beijing sits in the centre of a beautiful park in the Southeast of Beijing and makes a lovely afternoon stroll.
The central Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the main, and oldest, attraction, a spectacular wooden triple-gabled circular building with important symbolic architectural features from the Ming dynasty. Its round shape set in a square yard symbolises the connection of heaven (round) and earth (square). Additionally, the layers of pillars inside the hall symbolise the four seasons, twelve months and twelve hours of traditional Chinese timekeeping.
There are also several other buildings within the area, including the Circular Mound Altar, where sacrifices were made every Winter Solstice during the Ming and Qing dynasties, and the Palace of Abstinence, where the emperor fasted before ceremonies.
The park is an insight into Chinese culture just in itself – being very popular with local people for dancing, singing, sports and board games. This does mean however that it isn’t particularly quiet and relaxing, so if you are looking for a refreshing break from the bustle of the city it might be better to find a more peaceful spot.
Entrance ticket: 10 RMB (park) / 30 RMB (combination ticket)
Transport: many public bus options (get off at one of the TianTan gates: 天坛东门／天坛西门／天坛北门)/ Subway line 5