Album: By Country | By Date China | July 2001 < Prev Image | Temple of Heaven Park | Next Image >
Travelogue: By Country | By Date China | July 2001  


Ceiling in the Imperial Vault of Heaven. The Imperial Vault of Heaven is one of the three key buildings in the Park - the other two are The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and the Circular Mound Altar. These buildings are unique both for the unusual geometric layout and because they supposedly represent the pinnacle of traditional Chinese architecture. The buildings are linked by a 1000 foot, raised passage, running north/south. On the north end is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and to the south, the Imperial Vault of Heaven the Circular Mound Altar (Huan-ch'iu t'an). Seen from the air, the wall of the enclosure to the south is square, while the one on the north side is semicircular. This pattern symbolizes the traditional Chinese belief that heaven is round and earth square. The Imperial Vault of Heaven, first erected in 1530 and rebuilt in 1752, is some 64 feet high and about 50 feet in diameter. The circular building has no crossbeam, and the dome is supported by complicated span work. Its decorative paintings still retain their fresh original colors.

© Monica & Mark Hughes 2000-02