Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Day 9 - Beijing, China

The Temple of Heaven is a 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.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 Temple grounds cover 2.73 km² of parkland and comprises three main groups of constructions, all built according to strict philosophical requirements:

  • The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, 36 meters in diameter and 38 meters 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 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 raised walkway that slowly ascends from the Vault to the Hall of Prayer.
  • The Circular Mound Altar 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 or the Supreme Yang, 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 the Heaven. The Altar was built in 1530 by the Jiajing Emperor and rebuilt in 1740.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 term.
  • 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.

The Drum Tower

The Bell Tower

Rickshaw ride through the downtown...

Homemade stroller! :)

We were fortunate enough to be able to tour a 'house' in the area. 'House' in China basically means the whole family lives together. Mom, Dad, Children, Grandma, Grandpa, any Great Grandparents...All incomes go to raising the children. So we met all of the above in this house.

Here is a fruit tree they have growing in the open area, there is like a courtyard in the middle of all rooms.

Living Room

A Date Tree

Liesel Mae LOVED the Rickshaw ride.

Drying their own fruit...

Cute little Bunny Rabbit....Dale said it was probably dinner :(

No doors to the 'houses'. This is the view inside of one from the road.

Again, no door...

Our Rickshaw Drivers :)

Another picture of the Drum Tower

Paddle Boats!!!!!

Huka Bar :)

After dinner, Dale and I went out on our own. Dale took me on the Paddle Boats. We had never done this and it was very neat. We got a bad boat, the pedals were so loud, I think they needed some WD40 but we made the best of it. Yes, seems as though we went ALL the way to Beijing for a Paddle Boat ride LOL

Bright Flash :)

The perfect ending to a perfect day. This was the BEST HONEYMOON EVER. :)

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