Published: March 28th 2010February 18th 2010
This alter is 5m high and its geometry revolves around the number 9. Odd numbers symbolized heaven in 1530 when this was built. I don't know why.
We were in no rush today. Our train was leaving at 9:30 tonight and we only had one thing left to see - the Temple of Heaven. We slept in a bit, had breakfast at our hotel again, and then took the metro to the Temple. Beijing is handy that way. Nearly ever major tourist attraction has a metro stop named after it.
It was crowded. Surprise, surprise. The Temple of Heaven is not an active temple. It is a museum now. A huge museum that is larger than the Forbidden City if you include the gardens. The actual buildings are not quite as impressive though, but it is well worth a visit for only 35 RMB each. The gardens are beautiful and so is the architecture.
The Temple of Heaven was originally built in the 1400 and 1500's. Much of it has been reconstructed since the 1800's due to fire or some other type of damage. It is beautifully restored. It includes a 267 hectare park with a gate at each compass point, so it is difficult to get lost. The temple got its name because it was originally the place where the Son of Heaven who performed
solemn rites and prayed for good harvests and atonement for the sins of the people. I don't know what is meant by Son of Heaven. The temple halls are round and their bases are square. This symbolizes heaven and earth. Round earth - okay, I get that. Square heaven? Mmm, you lost me.
Many sections of the temple were crowded enough to make me want to run away, but I tried to be a good sport because of Enis. He's much more patient with crowds than I am. We enjoyed the visit. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
We went back to Qianmen Street and grabbed a bite to eat at KFC, then had a Starbucks, then took the metro to the Beijing South train station which is the cleanest, nicest, most luxurious public transport building I have ever entered. It was cleaner than Seoul's airport and had real chairs arranged attractively for waiting. Our train was boarding, so we didn't even get to sit down, but I was so impressed with this train station.
I was equally impressed with the train. We got soft sleepers and shared our berth with a nice Chinese couple. The
train was new, clean, and very comfortable. Each bed has its own flat screen TV and headphones. Honestly, I dreaded this train ride, but we had no choice. It turned out to be really great and we saved money on a hotel!
This brings our trip to Beijing to an end. It was a great trip with great weather and great company.
There are more photos below