Thursday, February 26, 2009

Temple of Heaven

My first full day in Beijing I went on a Viator tour (called "Classic Beijing") and it was great. They picked me up in a mini-bus and our tour guide was named "Jacky Li" (I'm not sure if that was his real name or not). He was super nice- he has been a tour guide for 10 years and drives 2 hours each way every day to do this job. He is from a rural farmer family and being the youngest boy child, he is taking care of his aging parents as well. I was with a group of 4 people from Kent, England. A mother, father, son, and godmother- they were very nice and we talked about England and the places in the U.S.

The Temple of Heaven was our first stop- it was the place where the emperor would offer sacrifices on the winter solstice and the harvests. The walls of the temple are square, signifying earth while the round buildings signified heaven. Today was the first day that Beijing had snow in over 100 days- it wasn't very much, just enough to make it REALLY cold. Despite the cold, TONS of seniors were out doing tai chi, dancing to music from boom boxes, playing hacky sac, and even badmiton. There were groups like this throughout all of the complex.

This is one of the gates to enter the temple complex area

Standing in the center of this circle produces an echo. Luckily, there weren't many people there so we were each able to have a turn. There are two other places in the complex where you can hear your echo- having ear along the walls (but you aren't allowed to since they are eroding from people touching them) and then again in front of the main altar.

The centers of each building/plaza lie along one line

This is a jade altar where animal sacrifices were made

Each level that you ascended helped to bring you closer to heaven and farther away from earth

All of the buildings ascended until it reached the pinnacle- this 3 tiered pavillion. It is unbelievably beautiful with such amazing tiling and designs.
You will see several more photos of me like this- my peacoat, scarf, and beanie were my uniform for a week

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