The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the highlight of the Temple of Heaven. Original built in 1420 (during the reign of Emperor Yongle), the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was the earliest building of the Temple of Heaven, and was also called the Hall of Great Sacrifice.
In 1751 (during the reign of Qianlong), it was restored and named the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The hall was destroyed by a thunderbolt in 1889 (during the reign of Guangxun) and rebuilt as it was a few years later.
The hall is a cone-shaped structure with triple eaves. The circular hall is 32 meters in diameter and 38 meters high, with a gilded knob on the top, and three double eaves on the way up. The blue eaves are covered with blue glazed tiles, symbolic of the sky.
The internal structure of the hall is unique, using 28 massive wooden pillars and 36 square rafters, interlocked without nails to support the entire structure. There is no steel and cement used.
The four dragon pillars in the center are 19 meters high and 1.2 meters in diameter, representing the four seasons. The twelve gold pillars in the middle circle represent the 12 months of the year, and the 12 pillars in the outer circle represent the 12 divisions of day and night.
The 24 pillars together in the middle and outer circles represent the twenty-four solar terms of a year. And the 28 pillars taken together represent the lunar mansions. A circular marble stone with naturally-occurring dragon and phoenix patterns lies in the center of the hall.
The hall lies on the a circular marble base, which covers an area of 5,900 square meters, six meters high and divided into three tiers. Each floor has marble railings with flowery carvings. There are other rectangular, blue-roofed buildings standing around the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
- Entry is included in the ticket cost for the Temple of Heaven.
- The best times to visit are spring and autumn.
- Open hours: 8:00am – 5:30pm