Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Touring China: #2 Temple of Heaven

One weekend in early spring we had perfect weather, finally.  The sky was a brilliant blue, the pollution was down to manageable levels, and the temperature was ideal.  So, we joined some new friends and ventured out to visit one of Beijing's most iconic destinations:  Temple of Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven, completed in 1420, is easily one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of China.  This three gabled building is commonly referred at the temple of heaven, but is in fact the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and one of three main structures that collectively make up the Temple of Heaven.

We took this photo atop the Circular Mound Alter, one of the three structures in the temple complex, and in the foreground you can see the roof of the third, the Imperial Vault of Heaven.

Here is an example of the interior design that dominates the buildings in the Temple of Heaven complex.

This the Nine-Dragon Juniper.  The name comes from the fact that people believe the trunk looks like nine dragons coiling around each other as the climb their way to heaven.  OK.  Dragon motif or not, this tree is over 500 years old.

A rare moment when Claire was left alone by the throngs of tourists.  Luckily for us, on this particular outing the friends we went with have much blonder children than we and they, unfortunately, bore the brunt of the unwanted attention
thrust upon the children. 

Amazingly, these structure are made entirely without nails.  Not a single one.  They are an engineering marvel and the complex has been designated a
UNESCO World Heritage site.

The grounds were massive and beautiful.  We saw families picniking and resting and playing.  It almost felt like being in Hyde or Central Park.  Almost.
Any time the weather is even remotely fine in Beijing you will find kites flying.  These kites are massive and often have lights.  Kite flyers wear special harnesses to keep a tight grip on these enormous flying contraptions.

We had a great visit to the Temple of Heaven and can't wait to go back 
to do some more exploring.


Nomads By Nature said...

The Temple of Heaven ended up being a favorite place that I only got to a few months before we left post. I am always amazed at how the city around just disappears when going inside.


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