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The Temple of Heaven lies to the east of the crossover at Tiantan Road, Chongwen District. Constructed in 1420, the 18th year of Yongle Period in the Ming Dyansty, it is now the largest complex of imperial altars preserved in China.
The Temple of Heaven is the most holy of Beijing's Imperial temples. It is where the Emperor came every winter solstice to worship heaven and to solemnly pray for a good harvest. Since his rule was legitimised by a mandate from heaven, a bad harvest could be interpreted as his fall from heaven's favour and threaten the stability of his reign.
The total area of the temple is 2,700,000 square meters, four times larger than forbidden City. The layout of this temple is in a shape of the Chinese character “?”. Two walls, respectively 6,416 meters and 3,292 meters long, separate the temple into and outer court and an inner court. The south wall is rectangular, and stands for the Earth; while the north wall is semicircular, and symbolizes the Heaven, in accordance with the ancient Chinese belief of “lofty heaven and humble earth” and “round heaven above square earth”.
The main buildings of the Temple lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis line of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are The Circular Mound Altar (Yuanqiutan), Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu) and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north. Also, there are some additional buildings like Three Echo Stones and Echo Wall. Almost all of the buildings are connected by a wide bridge called Vermilion Steps Bridge (Danbiqiao) or called Sacred Way.
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