Temple Of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is the most holy of Beijing Imperial temples. The emperor came here in the winter to pray to heaven for a good harvest. The Chinese believed this location was the exact center of the universe. The entire area was designed to represent the relationship between heaven and earth.
We enjoyed the actual grounds and surrounding areas of pine treed woods in the park. They were very pleasant to stroll through. The circular Temple of Prayer building is quite stunning. A lot of the other buildings are repetitive of ones in the Forbidden City but are on a smaller scale. The more approachable size does allow you to get a better appreciation for their architectural detail.
There are many different aspects of the park including some buildings with old Chinese artifacts in them. At 674 acres this site is three times the size the enormous Forbidden City. It doesn’t take as long to view though as a lot of it is grass and park. We would recommend you allow yourself 1 1/2 to 2 hours of time to view it. We paid all inclusive fee of 35 yuan to get into all sites and buildings within the park, there is a simple park entry fee of 15 yuan as well. For directions on how to get there, complete entry fees details and hours of operation click here.
It would be interesting to visit the park at dawn when many Chinese citizens are supposed to be there performing their morning exercises. When we were there in the afternoon the park was only occupied by other tourists.
This park was the Imperial garden during the MIng and Qing dynasties. It was later used as a place to store coal and is also known as Coal Hill. It is located across the street from the north gate of the Forbidden City, open from 6am to 9pm.
It’s a beautiful place to visit. It is full of fruit, pine and cypress trees. In May one of Beijing’s largest peony flower gardens comes into bloom. The park is situated around a hill that was artificially made from earth and rock removed to make the moat around the Forbidden City. From the top of the hill there is a large pavilion, you get a wonderful 360 degree view of Beijing and over the Forbidden City.
The park is also known for a famous incident that took place in 1644 when the last emperor of the Ming dynasty took his own life by hanging himself in a tree. That exact tree no longer exists, but there is a memorial to him in the spot it stood.
The square is needless to say a large square. Police and guards are everywhere night and day. There are also many surveillance cameras. People gather in the day and wander around it. Many come out to fly their kites since a big empty cement square is the perfect place to do so. There is a huge mausoleum which houses the preserved body of Chairman Mao. Apparently he does have to be taken away every once in a while for maintenance, other than this it is on display for public viewing, yuck. Of course there is no evidence of the massacre that happened in 1989. Apparently, according to Chinese officials, no one was actually killed inside the square, but in the areas around it. There is a joke in our Lonely Planet book about how you are not allowed to ride a bicycle across the square, but tanks are apparently okay!
Across from the square is a larger than life sized picture of Chairman Mao. This is on the outside of the Tienanmen building where he used to do his speeches from. There is also seating from where he and the dignitaries would watch military parades go by. As you walk around the square you are endlessly approached by hawkers trying to sell you kites and other goods. It doesn’t seem to matter which country we travel in they all start with the same approach. Hello, hello. It was really funny as Jack decided he was going to get the upper hand on one lady as she was walking towards us. Before she did anything he said hello, hello, to her. She started to laugh and walked away. She obviously knew we were not going to buy anything.