Hi guys !
After a long period of time, I can finally give you a piece of a new project I have been working on since I left Beijing.
Before leaving my amazing life as an expat (for now!), I received an amazing proposition : a collaboration with an American web site called “Walkli”.
Walkli is a website created for #travelers, #tourists or #bloggers in search of good information where they plan to go to. On this great website, you can fin maps created by travelers and/or bloggers who took time to point out in several cities what they loved or saw : looking for restaurants in Paris, a long stroll around Sydney or good info about Hong Kong, it is all there. Specifics, details, you can find a lot just by viewing different maps and clicking on a marked map.
As I lived over a year in China, they reached out to me to participate to this amazing project. My first map, as it seems obvious, focused on the 4 major temples surrounding the center of Beijing. I decided to guide you, whoever you are, through the city. From a start point, I give you all the information to stroll around Beijing city and discover the culture of China and its religious history.
Here is the first step of this map : the Temple of Heaven.
First temple I visited (in Spring 2016), its beauty and colossal architectural assets stroke me immediately. This is one of the masterpiece from ancient China, one of the most popular and must-see park in the heart of the city.
Here is the description (click here) you can find on Walkli website, with the rest of the mapping plan I created.
Welcome to this 4 Temple stroll around the center of Beijing.
To start on the right path, I’ll give you a timeline that can be modify but is also more or less the time you’ll need in every temple and on your way to the next stop.
This historical tour of Beijing starts with the magnificent Temple of Heaven, TianTan (天坛)
Start your day around 10 am, you will finish around 7/8 pm.
Rendez-vous point: TianTanDongMen station (line 5 of the Beijing subway).
You can use the map attached here – line 5 is the purple one !
- Temple of Heaven / 天坛
At TianTanDongMen station, take the Exit A to leave the station and follow the signs to the Temple. It’s 2 minutes away so you shouldn’t get lost here, as the Temple of Heaven is the most touristic one after the Summer Palace.
If I can advise you, I would highly recommend you to enter the temple and go straight to the North entrance and finish by the West part of the temple. Clockwise stroll which allow you to have multiple places to eat after this 1st long walk.
Larger than the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven was the main one in the Ming and Qing Dynasty where Emperors held sacrifices to the God of the Sky and beyond, Heaven.
Built in 1420, it is the most representative existing masterpiece among China’s ancient sacrificial buildings.
Starting from the North gate, you can begin your tour visiting the Flower and Rose Garden, both colorful and quiet place in the huge park surrounding the altars and buildings you’ll visit later.
In the North West, you’ll find also the old Double Rings Longevity Pavilion, where you can explore the gardens and immerge yourself into the Chinese traditions : old people come in the park to actually, from 5 am until later, practice their Tai-Chi or play traditional music of old times. This immersion from the start marks the ‘ambiance’ you can find in every park and temple around the city. Even if China is changing, becoming more modern, people try to keep the traditions as their history is even older than ours.
After that immersion, go to the North East part, to reach the Kitchen of Sacrifices and the Pavilion of Immolation. Those two buildings were the places where sacrifices were prepared initially. Taking the road South East, you’ll see the Seven-Star Rocks, rocks legend says fell from the sky as meteorites. They actually represent the top of the highest mountains in China, imported after the construction of the temple.
Follow the road south-east, walking in the east gardens. You’ll see the main road in the center of the Temple. There, go back North to reach the first big ‘attraction’ of the Temple of Heaven : the Hall of Prayers for Good Harvest.
This big & circular palace with round roof and three layers of eaves is the main palace where the emperor held the worship ceremonies to pray for good weather and abundant harvests. First building built of the Temple of Heaven, it’s a complex consisting of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Altar for Grain Prayers. Around it, you’ll find both Palace of Abstinence and Heaven Worship Culture. The first one was the palace where the Emperor stayed to fast before the prayers and ceremony.
After a (long) visit, many pictures, time to head to the South part of the Temple, the second biggest touristic attraction: the Central Mound Altar. This central masterpiece of traditional Chinese architecture is actually the main altar where the emperor, on every Winter solstice, came to offer the sacrifices to Heaven for good harvest through spring and summer. Its famous buildings include the Lingxing Gates, the Lantern Viewing Pole, the Terrace of Worshipping Heaven, the Heaven Heart Stone, the Firewood Stove and the Divine Kitchen Courtyard.
North of the altar, you’ll finally find the last part of the Temple: the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Last part before taking the road back North and turn on your left to reach through the park the West gate and exit, after 2 or 3 hours of visit, the main temple of the day.
Visiting this temple in the morning is the best considering the amount of people coming around 12 am and 4 pm. Then, exiting the park by the West gate, you’ll come face to face with modern complexes where you can find shopping mall and several restaurants. Convenient when you start feeling famished after that visit and more choice of food, the three other gates have fewer restaurants around. When you finished eating, a quick walk back to the subway station next to the North gate then you can go to your next destination: the Temple of the Moon.
To get the following steps, go check on Walkli website and follow the path.
See you soon guys !