To get to the Temple of Heaven, take the metro to Tiantandongmen Station on Line 5. When you exit the station, you will see a long, tall wall. That's the wall enclosing the temple complex. Walk south towards the nearest road intersection. And there you will find the park's east entrance.
At the east gate, you buy a ticket for 10 RMB to enter. That ticket takes you around just the park area of the temple complex, not the temple itself. When you get to the temple area, you pay another 20 RMB. A small fee, I think, to see this beautifully constructed UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Temple of Heaven is a complex of structures regularly visited by emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties to ask the heavens for good harvest. It was constructed in the early 1400's, around the same time as the Forbidden City, both sites commissioned by the same Ming ruler, the Yongle Emperor. However, it wasn't until the 16th century when the final design and layout of the temple complex was made by another Ming ruler, the Jiajing Emperor. At such time, the temple was given the name we know today, the Temple of Heaven.
Walking towards south side of the Hall of Prayer, the building with the three-tiered roof, you will find yourself standing in front of a huge red gated wall. This pass leads to a 360-meter elevated walkway, the Danbi Bridge. It is the oldest "overpass" in Beijing, connecting the Hall of Prayer to the altar proper. This bridge was, in imperial times, for exclusive use of the emperor.
Beautiful and magnificent as it was, the Temple of Heaven offers something more to its foreign visitors. The temple complex also gives tourists a good look into how Beijing locals spend a quiet Sunday afternoon. We saw a line of people on a roofed area doing all sorts of leisurely activities, from playing cards to Chinese chess. This is why, I think, the park entrance fee is separate from the temple entrance fee. Many locals use the park area, just the park area, quite regularly.
Strolling further along, we heard beautiful music coming from a choir in the middle of a rehearsal. Their songs were in Chinese, of course. You didn't need to understand the language, however, to appreciate the sounds of their voices. Much the same way as seeing an old man telling stories to an audience that had gathered around him. Everything was so ordinary, yet so captivating. Amazing, really. We saw the mundane in a place dedicated to the heavens.
* For more photos in this set, see my Flickr page: China: Beijing, Temple of Heaven
Hi there, traveler! Got any comments, suggestions or feedback? If so, do leave me a message by posting a comment. I would love to know what you think or at least "meet" you. A Retweet or a Like would be very much appreciated as well. Sharing buttons can be found at the beginning of this post and below. Safe travels!