China Travels: Temple of Heaven (天坛)

Temple of Heaven (天坛)
Temple of Heaven (天坛)

The Temple of Heaven (天坛) was another major highlight of my tour of Beijing.

Temple of Heaven (天坛)
Temple of Heaven (天坛)

I thought that the Forbidden City (紫禁城/故宫) was massive but the Temple of Heaven is about 7 times larger at 2.73 square kilometres. HOLEY SHEET!!

Also, technically, the Temple of Heaven was supposed to be an extension/part of the Forbidden City but it became a separate property in the end.

I’m not very good with historical stuff so you can go and google the historical importance of this place yourself. I am making this blog post because I was really amazed and extremely fascinated by the design and architecture of this place.

Whoever who designed the place really deserves an award; but I guess the Temple of Heaven being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is an award in itself.

The attention to detail is insane! Every circle of stone block laid in the ground is in the multiple of 9 and each flight of stairs has 9 steps.

Everything in the design and architecture of the place is a symbol and the location of every item and building is based on some kind of astronomy/the science of fengshui; I can’t explain further because I don’t fully comprehend the science/pseudo-science used in the design myself. Still, it doesn’t stop me from being awed by it all.

So if you look at the roof tiles of all the buildings in the Temple of Heaven, you’ll notice that it is all blue because it symbolises the colour of the sky/heaven. All the imperial buildings used by the Emperor/royalty have a yellow roof and all important/government buildings have a green roof. The building and houses of the commoners are various shades of grey; any other colour used could lead to death by execution.

The colour coding of the roofs doesn’t look like it is significant but if you think about it, from one look, you know what the building is roughly used for just by looking at the colour of the roof. This principle of subtly colour coding stuff is still being used in the modern day and I have studied this in software user-interface design. Hence it blows my mind how back in the 1400s, they already used this design principle.

As with everything in Beijing, there isn’t much to photograph but there sure is lots to look, listen, learn and understand.

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