Temple of Heaven
I think overall, this is the only ‘must see” place in Beijing. It is a huge garden and lawn and wooded complex, home to The Temple of Heaven. This is where the emperor regularly came to acknowledge the gifts of heaven. A remarkable blue tower is the centerpiece of the compound. It is remarkable beautiful, historical, and reflective. A perfect combination of nature, culture, and mysticism.
A ticket is required for entry, so we stopped at the ticket booth for a photo at the front gate, then entered the Temple of Heaven. I suggest that anyone interested read about this place for far more detail than I can convey. I took a photo of the map and legend at the entry, you might want to zoom in on that picture and look around.
Wonderful buildings, intricate stone carved railing and stairways and fences. Rooftops and simple tile drainpipes adorned with glazed statues and figures that could look as brand new. The colors, the tiles, the glazings, all from 500 years ago, same vintage as the Forbidden City, remarkably and vibrantly still colorful.
There were also massive incense pots and burners. Some look like cauldrons, others like 2 handled coffee pots.
The main temple building was incredibly beautiful with multi-colored (mostly blue) tile adornment and was a huge single altar room. The locale was on a hill, with modern Beijing skyline in the distance.
There was also a flat alter that looked like a layered wedding cake and a center stone that was central to the astronomy of the time marking the equinox, much like Stonehenge with an entry through large carved stone gates, lined up to welcome the sunrise
Legend has it that if you speak something from the central point of this temple, the heavens will hear you, so there is never a shortage of people to stand and be heard.
The grounds were very peaceful and well laid-out, including century old twisted cypress trees and formal gardens.
As we walked across the grounds, we heard music and followed the sound to a beautiful twin-towered structure where a vocal group was performing (or rehearsing).
It was connected to several other outdoor gazebo-like buildings. This was an area for relaxation and reflection.
There was a smaller temple structure off to one side and more intricate glazed figures along the eaves. Modern day lightening receptors surround the delicate glades figures to protect them.
Part of it visiting the building and reading the history, the rest enjoying the peacefulness and the grounds.
Departing the Temple of Heaven, we passed a few more workhorse tricycles…
…and met-up with some more friends who’d made dinner arrangements at an area near a lake with illuminated restaurants, shops, and markets.
We were very hungry. There were six of us and we had about ten courses to share (all meals are shared in a Chinese restaurant). Yes, they had Yan Jing Beer.
It was about a 45 minute walk on the warm night back to the hotel, but a very full day. It was getting dark and the combination of the lights and the darkening sky was beautiful.