One hazy day, we went to the Temple of Heaven Park. The air quality index was very high at 347 (hazardous) and reached a high of 477 (more hazardous) by evening. I’ve noticed that the worse the air quality, the cooler it gets, so overall it was a pleasant afternoon.
We gravitated toward a long passageway where many locals had congregated. There were countless groups of men and women playing lively games of cards.
As we continued, I was immediately drawn to a woman working with her hands. From afar I could tell she was crocheting! She had several of her handmade items for sale and even let me add a few triple crochet stitches.
The Long Corridor consists of covered passages connecting the Animal Killing Pavilion to the Divine Kitchen and the Divine Warehouse. From what I read, the night before a ceremony, the Long Corridor would be lit up with lanterns. Offerings of jade, silk, grains, and fruit would be stored there.
The Temple of Heaven is actually the name of the entire park covering 2.7 million square meters. During the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the emperors held worship ceremonies here.
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is perhaps the most associated with the Temple of Heaven. Worship ceremonies were held here to pray for good weather and good harvests.
Near the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, there is a Seventy-Year-Old Door. According to the sign, it is so named because it was built for Emperor Qianlong as a shortcut to the ceremony when he was 70 years old and in failing health. Out of concern that his sons would abuse the convenience, he decreed that only his offspring who had reached the age of 70 could use the door. No other emperor in the Qing Dynasty reached that age so he was the only person to ever use the door.
Near the Seventy-Year Old Door.
The Nine Dragon Juniper is over 500 years old. The trunk is covered with grooves that resemble nine dragons twisting around the tree, hence the name.
The next stop was the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The surrounding wall is called Echo Wall because of the acoustics.
The last stop was through these gates to the Circular Mound Altar, which is the actual temple of heaven as this is where the emperors sacrificed to Heaven. By then, there were many visitors and it was impossible to get a good photo of the Heavenly Center Stone.
After walking the length of the park, we were ready for a nap.