Temple of Heaven

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The layout and architecture of the Temple of Heaven is filled with symbolism. According to symbolic tradition, Heaven is round and the earth is square. Therefore, all of the buildings in the temple complex are round in shape, while their retaining walls and the axis are square. The surrounding walls of the complex also reflect these traditions. The southern side of the wall is square and the northern is round. The emperor would enter the temple complex from the south and this would symbolize his transition from earth to heaven. The glazed roof tiles of the major buildings in the temple complex are blue, symbolizing heaven. Other buildings have green or yellow roof tiles. The green tiles represent Buddhism and the yellow represent the emperor. Only imperial or imperial sanctioned buildings were allowed the colored tile roofs. The building was built without a single nail. The beams, pillars, and rafters were built in such a way that the weight of the building holds the structure together. The hall has 28 pillars which symbolize the 28 constellations. In the center of the hall are four pillars known as the Dragon Well Pillars. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is surrounded by a square surrounding wall. On the east and west sides of the hall are two halls which was where the gods of the sun, the moon, the stars, thunder, and lighting were prayed to. These halls now exhibit the musical instruments played during the ceremonies at the Temple of Heaven. A round building with a single-gabled roof topped with a gilded ball, the Imperial Vault of Heaven is located directly south of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. It was first built in 1530 and rebuilt in 1752 by Emperor Qianlong. Its design is similar to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, but on a much smaller scale. It is built on a single tiered marble base. The vault housed the tablet of the Emperor of Heaven and the emperor’s ancestral tablets. These tablets were prayed to and offered offerings and were...
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