Temple of Heaven is an altar of sacrificial offerings in Beijing. The magnificent building complex is
constructed around majestic pinewood surroundings. The complex is set amidst gardens and there are
about 92 buildings with 600 rooms for different purposes. The temple is an axial arrangement of circular
mound altar to the south open to the sky. There is a conical roof in the north called Imperial vaults of
heaven. There is another Hall of Prayer for good harvests on the north. In ancient times the emperors of
Ming and Qing dynasties, offered sacrifice to the celestial realm for bumper harvests. To the west is
situated the Hall of Abstinence where the king fasted after making sacrifices. The entire complex is
surrounded by double walled pine wood structure. Between these two walls is Hall for Divine Music
administration on the west. There is another building that was stable for sacrificial animals.
Located to the south of the Forbidden city, the original Altar of Heaven and Earth sacrifice was
completed in the year, 1420 along with the palace complex. In the nineth year of the reign of Emperor
Jiajing, the decision was taken to make separate offerings to Heaven and Earth. Thus the circular mound
of altar was constructed to the south. Thereby it was renamed as the Temple of Heaven from then
onwards. The current arrangement of the Temple Of Heaven complex was completed in the year 1749
AD after few alterations to the complex was brought in the reign of Qing emperors. The entire complex
is situated within 273 ha.
The sitting, planning and architecture of the Temple of Heaven was built according to the ancient
Chienese tenets relating to numbers and spatial formations. The emperor was called the Son of Heaven
in ancient Chinese philosophies. Hence his predominant position as interlocutor between man and God.
The temple is a masterpiece of architecture and design layout. It has also acted as the benchmark for
other similar constructions in the Far East for centuries. The attributes such as design and layout has
been preserved for over the centuries either as originally built or reconstructed structure by the Qing
dynasties. This is the best preserved temple palace complex in the world today.