Brief description: The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. In its overall layout and in that of its individual buildings, it symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven which stand at the heart of Chinese cosmogony, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship.
It was built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle and was where emperors went to worship heaven for good harvests.
There are two parts to the temple-the inner altar and outer altar. The main buildings are in the inner altar, on the north-south axis. At the southern end are the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. On the northern end are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and Huangqian Hall. The structures at both ends are connected by a 360-meter-long walk. There is also the Hall of Abstinence inside the West Heavenly Gate which was where the emperor fasted for three days and bathed before prayer.
The temple's main building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperor prayed for good harvests. The round hall, 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, has triple eaves and a cone-shaped deep blue tile roof crowned with a gilded knob. Surrounding the hall is a six-meter-high spacious circular stone terrace on three levels, each edged by a balustrade of carved white marble.