Widely regarded as Beijing’s most exquisite building, the Temple of Heaven marked the spiritual heart of Imperial China in the early 15th century. Each year on the summer solstice, the emperor would perform an elaborate ritual here to ensure the success of the harvest. Reflecting its ceremonial significance, the whole complex was set out according to principles of Confucian sacred geometry, with the circular, wooden, polychrome ‘Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests’ as its focal point.

Of equal fascination for visitors are the colonnaded hallways and parkland surrounding the temple complex, where local people gather to play the double-stringed erhu, sing folk songs and paint Mandarin calligraphy with long brushes on the dusty paving stones.

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