Beijing's Scenic Spot: The Temple of Heaven

Jacklyn Chen

Visitors: 277

The Temple of Heaven was initially built in Yongle year 18 of the Ming Dynasty (in 1420). Situated in the southern part of the city, it covers the total area of 273 hectares. With the additions and rebuild during the Ming, Qing and other Dynasties, this grand set of structures look magnificent and glorious, the dignified environment appears solemn and respectful, it is the place for both Ming and Qing Dynasty's Emperors to worship Heaven and pray for good harvest. The northern part of the Temple is circular while the southern part is square, implies “sky is round and earth is square" to better symbolize heaven and earth. The whole compound is enclosed by two walls, dividing the whole Temple into inner and outer areas, with the main structures enclosed in the inner area. The most important constructions are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the Circular Mound Altar, Imperial Heaven, The Imperial Vault of Heaven, Heaven Kitchen, Long Corridor and so on, as well as the Echo Wall, the Triple-Sound Stone, the Seven-Star Stone and others of historic interest and scenic beauty. The Temple of Heaven is a comprehensive expression of the unique construction techniques from Ming and Qing Dynasties, it is China's most treasured ancient architecture, it is also the world's largest architectural complex for worship heaven. In 1998, it was included in the “list of the world heritages" by the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Do you know? There are four wonderful sounds in the Temple of Heaven! It's worth your time to study the four wonderful sounds.

1. The echo from the Echo Wall - There is a circular wall around The Imperial Vault of Heaven, this is the famous Echo Wall. One person's mere whisper at any point close to the wall can be heard clearly on the other side if you draw your ear close to the wall, it is so clear that it is like talking on the phone. Do you want to know why? This is possible because the wall is round and hermetically constructed with smooth, solid bricks, so the sound wave can transmit to the other side via the extremely smooth inner circle.

2. The sound of the Dialogue Stone - If you speak while standing on the 18th stone in front of The Imperial Vault of Heaven, the sound can clearly pass to the northeast corner of the north side hall and the northwest of the west side hall that are both 36 meters away. The sound can be heard just as well on the stone when speaking from the corners of these two side halls, this is what we call the “Sound of the Dialogue Stone".

3. Repeating sounds of the Triple-Sound Stone - In front of the steps leading away from the hall is the Triple-Sound Stone. If you stand on the first stone and call out or clap your hands, the sound will echo once; on the second stone, the sound will be heard twice; and on the third stone, the sound will repeat three times. Hence it inherited the name. This is because the distances that the sound wave reflected from the round wall to the stone are different, the number of echo is also different. Take a guess which flagstone is at the center of the Echo Wall's? The third one. The echo actually gets repeated more than 3 times, it's just the sound is too weak to be heard after the 4th echo.

4. The hollow of the Heaven's Center Stone - There is a stone plate in the center of the Circular Mound Altar called the Heaven's Center Stone. Shouting aloud standing above, you will hear the reverberation of the echo. This is due to the refraction of the sound.

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Jacklyn Chen - Webmaster of and a full time mom with two lille kids. Working very hard to make living with multiple web sites. For more articles and information about travel, visit her travel blog


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