Beijing: Temple of Heaven
Pictures by: Father Tomas Del Valle-Reyes
The Temple of Heaven, or Tiantan, is China's largest temple and altar complex. It was the place where emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped heaven and prayed for abundant harvests. As Chinese emperors called themselves Tianzi, or the son of heaven, they had to cede supremacy to the heaven in terms of abiding.
Apart from heaven, Chinese emperors also worshipped many other gods as well as their own ancestors. Therefore, god-worshipping was an important part of their busy schedules. Other than the Temple of Heaven, there are other temples of various kinds scattered in Beijing, including the Temple of Earth, the Temple of Sun and the Temple of the Moon. But the Temple of Heaven is the most important and the grandest of them all.
Situated 2km southeast of the Forbidden City, the Temple, plus subsidiary buildings and surrounding gardens, covers an area five times the size of the Forbidden City. With exquisite architectural workmanship, it is the largest existing ancient architectural group for worshipping in China.