By: Jeanne Lai
Following our meeting with government officials, we boarded the tour bus and headed to the Temple of Heaven, also known in Chinese as Tian Tan.
The Temple of Heaven is a large religious complex built during the Ming dynasty. It provided a place for the emperor to make sacrificial offerings and prayers. Historically, most people apart from the emperor and his officials were forbidden from entering this sacred space, but today it is a park enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
We followed a covered walkway to reach the main buildings. Many seniors sat along the edges of the walkway playing card games or relaxing.
Upon entering the open space, we saw the main building, the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It is an iconic three-tiered building with tiled blue roofs, and detailing in red, green and gold. It was placed on top of three white stone platforms with smooth steps.
Surrounding the main hall of prayer were three smaller buildings, also with tiled blue roofs, that held exhibits pertaining to the Temple of Heaven. They displayed models of the sacrificial hall and its construction, materials, and information about its history.
The architecture of the building was very carefully considered, we learned from the tour guide. For instance, it was built without nails. Every detail including the colours of the tiles, the forms and the number of columns had a special meaning. We were able to walk up the steps and peer into the hall, a spacious room filled with red columns. Around the complex, many couples were posing for wedding photos in their traditional clothing, despite the hot weather.
Overall, the group enjoyed visiting the Temple of Heaven and learning about its significance in Chinese history.