Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Why is Temple of Heaven so Special?

The Temple of Heaven is a dedicated altar for emperors of Ming and Qing dynasties to worship heaven, pray for rain and pray for good years. It is divided into an inner altar and an outer altar, mainly including the Hall of Prayer for Good Years and the Hall of Emperor Gan. In addition to appreciating the exquisite architecture of the halls, the ingenious designs of the whispering gallery and the sanyinshi also make people lament the wisdom of the ancients.Temple of Heaven, World Cultural Heritage, National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit, National AAAAA Tourist Attraction

History of Temple of Heaven

According to historical records, there are official activities of offering sacrifices to heaven and earth, which can be traced back to the Xia Dynasty in 2000 BC, which was still in a slavery society. Ancient Chinese emperors called themselves “emperors” and they held heaven and earth in great reverence. The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 and has been repaired and expanded many times since then.

In 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces set up a headquarters in the Temple of Heaven Jail Palace and mounted guns on the circular mound. Cultural relics and sacrificial vessels were swept away and buildings and trees were destroyed.

After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the government invested a large amount of money in the protection and maintenance of the cultural relics of the Temple of Heaven.

In 1961, the State Council announced the Temple of Heaven as a “national key cultural relic protection unit”.

In 1998, it was recognized as “World Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO.

On May 8, 2007, Tiantan Park was officially approved as a national 5A tourist attraction by the National Tourism Administration.

Recommended Temple of Heaven Tourism Route

  • 1.Zhaoheng Gate (South Gate) → Circular Mound Altar → South Divine Kitchen → Echo Wall → Imperial Vault of Heaven → Three Echo Stones → Danbi Bridge → East Annex Hall → Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests → West Annex Hall → Palace of Abstinence → Divine Music Administration
  • 2. North Gate → Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests → East Annex Hall → West Annex Hall → Danbi Bridge → Echo Wall → Imperial Vault of Heaven → Three Echo Stones → Danbi Bridge → South Divine Kitchen → Circular Mound Altar → Lingxing Gates → Palace of Abstinence → Divine Music Administration

Main attraction

Circular Mound Altar

Located in the southern part of this area, The Circular Altar Mound is actually the Temple of Heaven in the practical sense. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the emperors would offer sacrifice here to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. Its famous buildings include the Lingxing Gates, the Lantern Viewing Pole, the Terrace of Worshipping Heaven, the Heaven Heart Stone, the Firewood Stove and the Divine Kitchen Courtyard.

Imperial Vault of Heaven

Along the middle axis, from the Circular Mound Altar to the north, you will see the Imperial Vault of Heaven. It is the place housing the Gods’ tablets to be used at the Heaven Worship Ceremony. It is famous for the Echo Wall, Three Echo Stones and the Dialogue Stone, which are all interesting attractions utilizing the theory of sound wave.

Danbi Bridge

Also called the Vermilion Steps Bridge, the Danbi Bridge connects the northern part and the southern part. The south end of the Bridge is lower than its north end. The emperors believed that they could go to heaven by this Bridge, hence the name, Sacred Way. The Sacred way had three routes, the central one was the Imperial Route exclusively used by the Emperor and on one side was the Princes’ Route. On the other side was the route for high officials.

Palace of Abstinence

Located in the southwest of the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, the Palace of Abstinence is where the emperor fasted before the Heaven Worship Ceremony began. It has several distinctive buildings, such as the Beamless Hall, the Rest Palace, the Belfry, etc.

Travel guide

Opening and closing time

  • First, the park gate
    1. Opening hours: 6:00-21:00 in high season and 6:30-21:00 in low season
    2. Gate ticketing time: 6:00-20:00 in high season and 6:30-20:00 in low season
    3. Joint ticket selling time: 8:00-16:00 in high season and 8:00-15:30 in low season
    4. closed Time: 22:00


Temple of Heaven, World Cultural Heritage, National Key Cultural Relics Protection Unit, National AAAAA Class Tourist Attractions, National Civilized Scenic Spots Demonstration Sites.

Nearby Attractions

Museum of Natural History in Beijing:Located in Tianqiao area on the central axis of the capital Nancheng, there are four basic displays and a dinosaur world expo. The number of large-scale overall fossil mammals in the museum ranks second in the world. Yellow River fossil elephants and dinosaur fossils are well-known at home and abroad.

Tiananmen Square in Beijing: The world’s largest square is located on the south side of Chang ‘an Avenue, on the traditional central axis of Beijing. Every morning and evening, flag raising and lowering ceremonies will be held. For newcomers to Beijing, watching a flag raising and lowering ceremony is a must.

National Museum of China in Beijing: With a total construction area of nearly 200,000 square meters and a collection of more than 1 million pieces, it is the largest museum with the largest single construction area in the world. The museum is divided into five floors and has 48 exhibition halls. It is one of the museums with the richest collection of cultural relics in China.