Our first full day in Beijing was just that, full.
First we visited the Temple of Heaven. In the last post, I included a map of the 25 hectare site. If you want to get an idea about the size and shape of buildings at the Temple of Heaven, use this link which provides 360 degree views from various points on the site. http://www.visit360.net/en/asia/china/beijing/temple-of-heaven-in-360 If you want more background, check Wikipedia.
The Temple of Heaven was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/881) 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 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, also in Beijing. the complex was used by both Ming and Qing (1644-1912) imperial dynasties.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a triple-gabled circular building, 32 metres in diameter and 38 metres tall, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests. The building is completely wooden, with no nails.
Mid-day light: the bane of photographers!
Details of the staircases around the marble base of the main temple.
- The site and all the courts are huge. They easily accommodate the thousands of people who visit. Note the smog building as the day progresses.
- The Imperial Vault of Heaven. More blue tiles.
Some of the crowds moving from the Imperial Vault of Heaven (in background) to the altar (photo below). Circular walls inside exterior square walls.
The number nine represents the Emperor and is evident in the design of the Circular Mound Altar: a single round plate is surrounded by a ring of nine plates, then a ring of 18, and so on for a total of nine surrounding rings, the outermost having 9×9 plates.
People wanted to have their picture taken on the altar. Not sure why!
Details, details, details. These are the things I really prefer to shoot.
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: this low round wall, for instance.
The blue tiles.
Green tiles on a less significant building.
Seven mythical beasts – for an emperor there should be nine. Have to go back to China to ask about this! We decided that the wires must be lightening rods.
Doors had nine rows of nine studs.
Detail on the main Temple.
- A circle within a square: heaven on earth?
And finally, in a secluded corner within the square exterior wall, a wedding shoot.
Even with a reflector, shooting in mid-day sunlight would be a challenge.