The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is 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. 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. For more than two thousand years China was ruled by a series of feudal dynasties, the legitimacy of which is symbolized by the design and layout of the Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pinewoods. In its overall layout and that of its individual buildings, it symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven-the human world and God's world which stands at the heart of Chinese cosmogony, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship.
The Temple of Heaven is situated in the southern part of Beijing city. It was built in 1420, and reconstructed in 1530, encompassing 273 hectares. The perimeter of the complex is 6369 meters long and 6 meters high. The Temple was the place where the emperors of the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties worshipped heaven and prayed for good harvests.
They came here twice a year, on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month and on winter solstice. At first, both heaven and earth were worshipped here. After 1530 when the Temple of Earth was built in the northern suburbs, only the temple was only done for heaven. The three major structures in the complex include Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, Imperial Vault of Heaven (with Echo Wall), and Circular Mound Altar.