Ladies and Gentlemen:
Welcome to the temple of Heaven. (After self-introduction) preserved cultural heritages of China. There are basically two kinds of visitors who come here: local pensioners who do exercises here in the morning and evening and sightseers both from home and abroad. All in all, there are 12 million visitors very year. Now we are going to go along the route that leads to the alter. It will take roughly one hour. Mind you, the emperor also walked along this route to pay tribute to the God of Heaven.
(Along the Southern Sacred Road leading to the Circular Mound Altar)
The largest group of architectures ever to be dedicated to Heaven, the Temple of Heaven served as an exclusive altar for Chinese monarchs during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It was decreed that rulers of successive dynasties would place altars in their own capitals to worship Heaven and pray for good harvest. But why?
The ancient Chinese believed that Heaven was the supreme ruler of the universe and the fate of mankind, and thus worshiping rites dedicated to Heaven came into being. The Heaven the ancient Chinese referred to was actually the Universe, or nature. In those days, there were specific rites of worship. This was especially true during the Ming and Qing dynasties when elaborate ceremonies were held.
The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty. Situated in the southern part of the city, this grand set of structures covers an area of 273 hectares. To better symbolize heaven and earth, the northern part of the Temple is circular while the southern part is square. The whole compound is enclosed by two walls, a square wall outside a round one. The outer area is characterized by suburban scenery, while the inner part is used for sacrifices.