TEMPLE OF HEAVEN, Hall Of Prayer For Good Harvests Part I

Audio File length: 2.33
English / USA Language: English / USA

To reach the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, you have to take the imperial walkway, known as the Danbi Bridge, Sacred Way, or Red Stairway Bridge. This long, sloping, stone road rises three meters at the end, symbolizing the emperor’s ascent to Heaven. It comprises three marble paths: the central path, known as the Divine Road, was used exclusively by the Gods, while those to the right were used by the emperors and those on the left were used by the princes and high-ranking officials.

The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is a circular pavilion, with a diameter of 32 meters and a height of 38 meters. It sits on a huge, round, white marble platform called the Altar for Grain Prayers. The base measures an impressive 5900 square meters; it is 6 meters high and is formed by three levels surrounded by carved white marble railings.

The glazed blue pagoda roof is made up of three levels, symbolizing the gradual approach to Heaven.

 

Now press pause and enter the building.

 

As you can see, the marvelous, multi-colored interior features sophisticated patterns and inlay work in warm shades, and is an architectural masterpiece. The whole structure is supported by 28 wooden columns and 36 beams, arranged with symbolic meaning: the four columns around the inner circle represent the four seasons; the 12 central columns symbolize the 12 months of the year, and the other 12 on the outside represent the 12 Shichen, an ancient Chinese measurement of time equal to two hours.

The altar in the middle is the most sacred part of the building, and the Heavenly Great Tablet is placed on it. At the sides of the altar are the four ancestral tablets of the Qing dynasty.

 

 

An interesting fact: in the center of the hall, look for the round marble stone engraved with a dragon and a phoenix. Legend has it that the stone was originally engraved with only the phoenix, while the dragon was depicted on the ceiling. As time passed, however, the two creatures fell in love, and the dragon flew down to join his beloved phoenix.

One day, Emperor Jiajing suddenly decided to hold a ceremony, and knelt down on the stone while the dragon was there, thus impressing it on the stone forever.

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