Conceived as the meeting point between heaven and earth, with the emperor being the intermediary, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing is highly regarded as one of the best surviving examples of Ming design. Set in the centre of Tiantan park the temple itself consists of a number of beautiful buildings all adorned with striking dark blue tiles. These include:
- The Earthly Mount – a platform on three levels of marble stones, where the Emperor prayed for good weather.
- The House of Heavenly Lord – a circular building, built on a single base of marble stone, where the altars were stored.
- The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests – an outstanding triple-gabled circular building, built (without a single nail) on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests.
If you’re wondering why it looks like it was just painted yesterday then you’d be right – in 2005 it was given a makeover in time for the 2008 Olympics at a cost of around 47 million yuan (approx 3 million GBP). Whilst it looks stunning it does make you wonder if its new appearance is in keeping with its actual age, having been completed in 1420. I guess restoration is always a balance between maintaining the aged look whilst preserving the underlying structure.
If you’re in Beijing this is definitely not to be missed!