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天坛Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) complex consists mainly of two structures — 祈年殿Qiniandian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) and 圜丘坛Zuqiutan ( Round Altar ).(see map below) The two times I was here I always missed the latter. Maybe I was too attracted to the round cone-roofed ceremonial hall, which is probably the next best known Chinese structure outside of China — after the Great Wall. Built first during the Ming in the year 1420, but was struck down by lightning in 1889.  The following year reconstruction work on the hall started and continued til its completion in 1896. 

Today this temple complex had been converted into a public park and the entirely wood royal temple, which was assembled together using complex joinery, especially in the brackets that make up the triple eaves, sits on a three-tier marble mount on the north of the complex.  The tourist areas in the park are inevitably crowded, but fortunately the park itself is meant for the more reflective, so it is quite lonely. I always find someone with a 二胡erhu in the long corridors, playing to the squirrels. Although you may find a flutist playing to one of its usually elusive odd birds that soon disappears among the ancient cypresses.

NEW -- July 21, 2010

The beautiful city of Suzhou crisscrossed with narrow water canals

Region: 北京Beijing

天坛公园图片Tiantan Park (The Temple of Heaven) Pictures

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )

    Children entering the temple park

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )

    The entrance gate to the 祈年殿Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )

    The triple-eaved 祈年殿Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest during the winter of 1994 when I was first here

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )
  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )

    The marble triple-terrace of the 祈年殿Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest during the winter.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )
  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿The round hall under sun-setting light,viewed from below its circular stone terrace.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿The round hall viewed from below its circular stone terrace.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    View from the north side.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿The round hall viewed from the back(north side) marble staircase. Along the center are large stone slabs with dragon-and-phoenix-and-cloud motif carved on it.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿 The Hall framed by the wood columns of the its gate.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿Hall of Prayer in the afternoon.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿Hall of Prayer in the afternoon.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    the freshly painted Temple glowing with the sunlight

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿Hall of Prayer in the afternoon.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests lit by the setting sun.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests
  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    The very prominent triple circular eaves may represent the layers of heaven.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    Side of the entirely wood structure. Its sides have intricate patterns and designs painted with the very common colors: azure, cyan, green, gold and chinese red.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    dragon heads lined the three-tiered base of the Temple's marble base

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    detail of the marble stair-cased base

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年门 Gate to the Hall

    Staircase up the gate to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年门 Gate to the Hall

    Gateway to the ceremonial hall. The outline of the arch may be influenced by design patterns of ceramic and bronze vessels or, more likely, from the outline of the lotus.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )
  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )

    One of the quiet corners of the complex.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )
  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )
  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    One of the gates to the park

  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    roof details of one of the main gates to the park

  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park
  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 齐宫 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park
  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    天坛 Tiantan has some smaller private areas that usually contains a garden.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    a finely-crafted handle or knob in the shape of a lion's head with a dragon on a flat ring under its mouth. They are part of the design of a large red gate.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    The tailless dragons that formed the handle of a large casted bell. The bell sat inside a small building with arch-shaped opennings on four sides. Four low gates were also set up to prevent anyone from getting their hands on it. But if you paid Y10 you may go in and kiss it if you like.

  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 皇穹宇 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    the 19 meter rotunda within the confines of the 回音壁 Echo Wall.

  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 回音壁 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park --Echo Wall

    回音壁 Echo Wall is on the south of the complex. It is 3 meters high and 1 meter thick. Inside the encircling wall is the 穹避宇, a 19 meter high rotunda

  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 回音壁 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    Listening around the curve Echo Wall. One is suppose to hear the words of another whispering on the other end, but all I hear is the next person yelling "can you hear me?".

  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park
  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 影壁 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park
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    detail of roof and eave

  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    one of the many gates that line the 4 directional paths of the complex

  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 屋顶 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park -- Roof
  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 树 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park -- Tree

    In the late hours the park has a dense atmosphere. When I passed by this tree, I was stopped me with its brilliant red violet color.

  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    A girl in Mongolian dress

  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 树 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    the park have a large collection of old cypress trees

  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 树 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park -- Tree
  • Picture of 天坛公园 -- 树 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park -- Tree
  • Picture of 天坛公园 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven) Park

    At the closing hour of the park.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan ( Temple of Heaven )

    The temple park is a popular hangout for birds, whether caged or freewheeling. Its many old cypresses are wonderful to walk through.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    祈年殿Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests lit by the setting sun.

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    the Temple at sunset

  • Picture of 天坛 Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)

    the Temple in the evening

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年殿 Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests

    View from the park area at night.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年门 Gate to the Hall

    The gateway lit by the setting-sun.

  • Picture of 天坛--祈年门 Gate to the Hall

    Outline of the gate's rooftop and ridge against the evening sky.

clay figure of 钟馗 Zhong Kui

Arts and Crafts that I bought along my travels.

image of Pingyao streetimage of the main gate tower to the Chang family's compound and gardern

The compounds and manors of the extreme wealthy in 山西Shanxi's small towns and villages. See the old town of 平遥Pingyao with well-preserved Ming and Qing city wall and street layout.

image of Wudangshan temple

The extraordinary temple complex in 湖北Hubei's legendary Daoist mountains - the source of much of China's famed 功夫Gongfu tradition.

image of an old man looking toward Shanghai\'s 浦东 Pudong skylineShanghai\'s 浦东 Pudong skyline

上海Shanghai: Today, the financial center of China as well as one of its cultural centers. Fashion lovers, misfits, intelectuals, dreamers, refugees, outcasts, and outlaws alike rush to Shanghai for its haven and riches. You come to Shanghai not for any historical attractions, but rather for the city itself -- its interactions of all things good and bad that generate hot gossips.

My translations of some Chinese poems.

Travelogues and travel notes.

image of stone lion

The stone lions, chimeras, toistoises and unicorns that guarded the royal tombs of the 六朝Six Dynasties Era for the past 1600 years.

image of Jiayuguan fort

嘉峪关Jiayuguan (Jiayu Pass) - the lone fort at the edges of the desolate and bare Gobi desert. It is at once both a timeless symbol of human's uncompromising reach and an otherworldly mirage.

trucks on the desert road

Pictures I took while on a bus traveling through the sandy deserts of 甘肃Gansu on my way to 嘉峪关Jiayuguan.

image of a group of Mongolian gersimage of dunes near Baotou city

Enjoy the wide 希拉穆仁草原Xilamuren grassland, the huge dunes of 响沙湾Xiangshawan, and the ancient Wall of the Qin state in 内蒙古Neimenggu (Inner Mongolia).

天坛公地图 Ground Plan Map of Tiantan Park (Temple of Heaven)( click on image for further details. You may also like to see a satellite image of Tiantan as well. )

北京市地图 ground plan of Tiantan park
  1. 祈年殿Qiniandian (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests).
  2. “神道”,“海墁大道”,“丹陛桥” -- various names given to this 360 meter long, 28 meter wide and 2.5 meter high walkway that connects the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests on the north with the 圜丘坛Zuqiutan (Round Altar) on the south.
  3. 皇穹宇Imperial Vault of Heaven, a 19 meter high rotunda.
  4. 圜丘坛Zuqiutan (Round Altar)
  5. 内坛墙Tiantan's Inner Wall.
  6. 外坛墙Tiantan's Outter Wall.
  7. 西门West Gate. This gate should be the most common entrance to the complex.