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Temple of Heaven in Beijing

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Planning a vacation to China? One of the best things to do in Beijing is to visit the Temple of Heaven and marvel at its architecture.

Temple of Heaven main building with marble base, Beijing, China

The Temple of Heaven in Beijing is one of the most colorful complex of buildings I have ever seen.

The park was originally constructed in 1420 and was a place to pay homage to heaven and for emperors to pray for good harvests. In 1998 it was included in the UNESCO Heritage Site list and today is a sprawling park and popular tourist attraction.

Temple of Heaven Architecture

The ornate decoration on the dome of Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China

When you visit the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, you can enjoy the beautiful architecture of the historical buildings or the 600 acres of green parks surrounding it.

Buildings made completely of wood, with no nails and in some, no support for the domes and circular marble stone bases ornately carved. Truly an engineering and artisanal feat!

Pay close attention to the decoration on the roofs and buildings’ ceilings in the Temple of Heaven complex. The intricate details of the paintings make you wonder about the society that made those things centuries ago.

The skill level and time that it took to get it all done is astonishing. Another thing that fascinated me was the difference in color palettes used in China, South Korea and Japan.

Temple of Heaven gate, Beijing, China

In China , blue and green ceramic roofs contrast with coral reds. In South Korea the colors are very similar, but more muted. And in Japan vermillion and simple black is dominant.

Some of the motifs are the same describing the common history of these nations. The colors tell a story, not only of history (what materials were available) but also of the people – how did they see themselves, how did they want others to see them. It’s fascinating!

I wonder if you have noticed similarities and differences while visiting different countries in the same region? If so, leave a comment, I’d love to know about it.

Things to do at Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Families flock to the green space surrounding the Temple of Heaven to exercise, enjoy nature, and socialize. It’s very common to see people dancing, playing music, and playing card games in its long pavilions.

People playing card games in Temple of Heaven park

Temple of Heaven is also very popular for engagement pictures.

Engagement shot in Beijing China

As with everything in China, it will most likely be packed any day of the week.

I was there during the a national celebration- 70 years since the end of WWII- and several tourist attractions were packed to the brim.

Expect to have a lot of bodily contact if you want to see certain things, like the inside of the buildings.

If you need a break, head for the gardens. You will be able to find shade, several little shops for refreshments and some peace and quiet.

How to Get There

Temple of Heaven is located in central Beijing and is open from 8 am to 5 pm and the park is open for much longer hours. There is a small fee to enter the building complex.

There are four main gates for Temple of Heaven, but only two are easily accessible by subway:

  • East Gate: Line 5 Tianttandongmen Station
  • West Gate: Line 8 Tian Qiao Station 
  • North and South Gates are accessible by bus
Tourists in Beijing

If you enjoyed reading this travel guide on Temple of Heaven, then you might want to read on these other things to do in China:

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Temple of Heaven Beijing China

Written Sept 2016. Updated June 2020.


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