Temple of Heaven 天壇
The Temple of Heaven (Chinese: 天壇; pinyin: Tiāntán) is an imperial complex of religious buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest.
Location:Dongcheng, Beijing, China
Coordinates:39.8822°N 116.4066°ECoordinates: 39.8822°N 116.4066°E
Official name: Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing
坐標：39.8822°N 116.4066°ECoordinates：39.8822°N 116.4066°E
The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was extended and renamed Temple of Heaven during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century. Jiajing also built three other prominent temples in Beijing, the Temple of the Sun (日壇) in the east, the Temple of Earth (地壇) in the north, and the Temple of Moon (月壇) in the west. The Temple of Heaven was renovated in the 18th century under the Qianlong Emperor. By then, the state budget was insufficient, so this was the last large-scale renovation of the temple complex in imperial times.
The temple was occupied by the Anglo-French Alliance during the Second Opium War. In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, the Eight Nation Alliance occupied the temple complex and turned it into the force’s temporary command in Beijing, which lasted for one year. The occupation desecrated the temple and resulted in serious damage to the building complex and the garden. Robberies of temple artifacts by the Alliance were also reported. With the downfall of the Qing, the temple complex was left un-managed. The neglect of the temple complex led to the collapse of several halls in the following years.
In 1914, Yuan Shikai, then President of the Republic of China, performed a Ming prayer ceremony at the temple, as part of an effort to have himself declared Emperor of China. In 1918 the temple was turned into a park and for the first time open to the public.
The Temple of Heaven was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 and was described as “a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations…” as the “symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries.”
The Temple grounds cover 2.73 km2 (1.05 sq mi) of parkland and comprises three main groups of constructions, all built according to strict philosophical requirements:
-The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 36 m (118 ft) in diameter and 38 m (125 ft) tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails. The original building was burned down by a fire caused by lightning in 1889. The current building was re-built several years after the incident.
-The Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇) is a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base. It is located south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and resembles it, but is smaller. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall, the Echo Wall, that can transmit sounds over large distances. The Imperial Vault is connected to the Hall of Prayer by the Vermilion Steps Bridge, a 360-meter-long (1,180 ft) raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer. The dome for this building also has no crossbeams to support the dome.
-The Circular Mound Altar (圜丘坛) is the altar proper, located south of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is an empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, each decorated by lavishly carved dragons. The numbers of various elements of the Altar, including its balusters and steps, are either the sacred number nine or its nonuples. The center of the altar is a round slate called the Heart of Heaven (天心石) or the Supreme Yang (太阳石), where the Emperor prayed for favorable weather. Thanks to the design of the altar, the sound of the prayer will be reflected by the guardrail, creating significant resonance, which was supposed to help the prayer communicate with Heaven. The Altar was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.
– 祈年殿（Praan for Good Harvests）是一座宏偉的三角形圓形建築，直徑36米（118英尺），高38米（125英尺），建在三層大理石石基上，皇帝在那裡祈求豐收。該建築完全是木製的，沒有釘子。原建築在1889年被閃電引起的火災燒毀。目前的建築物在事件發生幾年後重建。
– 皇穹宇（Imperial Vault of Heaven）是一座單一的山形圓形建築，建在一層單一的大理石石基上。它位於祈禱大廳的南部，與其相似，但更小。它周圍環繞著光滑的圓形牆壁Echo Wall，可以遠距離傳輸聲音。皇家穹頂通過朱紅步橋連接到祈禱大廳，這是一條360米長（1,180英尺）的升高走道，從穹頂緩緩上升到祈禱大廳。這座建築的圓頂也沒有支撐圓頂的橫梁。
– The Circular Mound祭壇（圜丘壇）是位於皇家天穹南部的祭壇。這是一個空曠的圓形平台，分為三層大理石，每塊石頭都由雕刻精美的龍雕刻而成。祭壇的各種元素的數量，包括其欄杆和步驟，要么是神聖的九號，要么是它的非元素。祭壇的中心是一個圓形的石板，稱為天心石（天心石）或太陽石（太陽石），皇帝在那裡祈求有利的天氣。由於祭壇的設計，祈禱的聲音將由護欄反映出來，產生顯著的共鳴，這應該有助於禱告與天堂溝通。祭壇於1530年由嘉靖皇帝建造，並於1740年重建。
In ancient China, the Emperor of China was regarded as the Son of Heaven, who administered earthly matters on behalf of, and representing, heavenly authority. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The temple was built for these ceremonies, mostly comprising prayers for good harvests.
Twice a year the Emperor and all his retinue would move from the Forbidden City through Beijing to encamp within the complex, wearing special robes and abstaining from eating meat. No ordinary Chinese was allowed to view this procession or the following ceremony. In the temple complex the Emperor would personally pray to Heaven for good harvests. The highpoint of the ceremony at the winter solstice was performed by the Emperor on the Earthly Mount. The ceremony had to be perfectly completed; it was widely held that the smallest of mistakes would constitute a bad omen for the whole nation in the coming year.
在中國古代，中國的皇帝被視為天子，他代表天堂的權威管理屬世的事。 被視為以犧牲天堂的形式表現出對他權威來源的尊重是非常重要的。 這座寺廟是為這些儀式而建的，主要是祈禱豐收。
皇帝和他的所有隨從一年兩次將從紫禁城穿過北京，進入綜合體內，穿著特殊的長袍，不吃肉。 沒有普通中國人被允許觀看這次遊行或下一次儀式。 在寺廟建築群中，皇帝將親自向天堂祈禱，以獲得豐收。 冬至儀式的最高點是由皇帝在地球山上進行的。 儀式必須完美; 人們普遍認為，最小的錯誤將在未來一年對整個國家構成不良預兆。
Earth was represented by a square and Heaven by a circle; several features of the temple complex symbolize the connection of Heaven and Earth, of circle and square. The whole temple complex is surrounded by two cordons of walls; the outer wall has a taller, semi-circular northern end, representing Heaven, and a shorter, rectangular southern end, representing the Earth. Both the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar are round, each standing on a square yard, again representing Heaven and Earth. The number nine represents the Emperor and is evident in the design of the Circular Mound Altar: a single round marmor plate is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, then a ring of 18 plates, and so on for a total of nine surrounding rings, the outermost having 9×9 plates.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has four inner, twelve middle and twelve outer pillars, representing the four seasons, twelve months and twelve traditional Chinese hours respectively. Combined together, the twelve middle and twelve outer pillars represent the traditional solar terms. All the buildings within the Temple have special dark blue roof tiles, representing the Heaven.
The Seven-Star Stone Group, east of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, represents the seven peaks of Taishan Mountain, a place of Heaven worship in classical China.
There are four main supportive, dragon pillars each representing a season. The structure, held up by these dragons, imitates the style of an ancient Chinese royal palace. Twelve inner pillars symbolize the lunar months, and it is thought that the twelve outer pillars refer to the 12 two-hour periods of the day.
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