Set in the southern section of Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is the centre of imperial ritual ceremony for Ming and Qing Dynasties. First built in the 18th year of Emperor Yongle of Ming Dynasty, and renovated during the rein of Emperor Qianlong, the Temple of Heaven is a masterpiece of ancient architecture.
The complex covers an area of 2.73 million square metres, stretching in the east-west axis 1,700 metres and in the south-north axis 1,600. Only a small portion of the premises is taken by halls and altars, leaving most of the space for vegetation. The dark green foliage decorates the compound, painting it in noble tinges.
Worship of Heaven and Earth by emperors, sons of Heaven, has a long history in China. Historic records date this sacrificial ceremony, a combination of natural religion and aristocratic political philosophy, to Xia Dynasty 2,000 years ago. Heaven-Earth worship occupied a conspicuous place in the political life of ancient China. Architectures for rituals usually dominated in the capital cities, representing the most advanced architecture and arts. The Temple of Heaven serves as a best example of the ancient ritual institution.
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