A Place of Heaven on Earth

By Christina Kim - August 25, 2017


Heaven and earth.

Distinct, distant yet always closely linked in comparison to each other.

Heaven is the highest realm, the one that governs over us beings on earth.
The creations from the divine powers of heaven.
Heaven presides over earth, and earth resides at the feet of heaven's grace.

Heaven will always be regarded as the superior in most of the religious beliefs and many would pray and hope to end in the supreme realm after death, to be reunited with the Creator and find everlasting lives.
It is an ideal of perfection, a place which is beyond reach yet at the same time, much desired as the ultimate destination.

The ruler of a country; the king or the emperor, is believed to be sent from Heaven, since the early beginnings.
The one who will rule over the nation (or world as they believed) is said to hold that mandate  from Heaven and is specially designated by the gods as their representative on earth.

As the divine being ruling in their earthly form as decreed by Heaven, the king or emperor commands much respect and dignity and is held with the highest regard.
They are viewed with much honor and people would fall on their knees and bow their heads, deeming themselves inferior and unworthy to even appear before the ruler.

Everything the king does or says is regarded as the law, and the word sent from Heaven and can only be accepted.
Any objection would be treated with distaste and disrespect, and a form of defiance against the will of god.

As representatives of Heaven, the king/emperor must also display virtues, morals and lead exemplary behaviors to reflect their heavenly status.
They are to model the elegance of the heavenly realm while performing their duties at the same time, towards heaven.

One of such is the practice of worship and prayer offerings to Heaven, to show respect to Heaven; from which the king receives his divinity and calling from.

It is the practice that the king must be involved directly himself and to lead in person.

The worship and offering of prayers to Heaven is to be done by the king himself.

Twice a year, the Chinese emperors would perform their duties and along with the royal family, observe a period of reverence as they make their way to retreat to the temple to pay homage to the gods and deities in heaven.

The Temple of Heaven(天壇), is constructed to hold this important occasion.


In earlier days, Mount Tai, also known as Taishan Mountain(泰山) is the place for the sacred worship among the royals.

The masterpiece temple was the brainchild of Yongle Emperor, who also commanded the building of the Forbidden City, and became the central point for the continuity of the Heaven worship practices from the 15th century onwards.

The temple got its name in the 16th century (Emperor Jiajing's reign).

This majestic temple is just like the other heritage sites in Beijing, comprises of a series of complexes and spots marked as the worship locations.

There are three main locations; the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests(祈年殿), the Imperial Vault of Heaven (皇穹宇), and the Circular Mound Altar(圜丘坛).

The central of them all, is the iconic Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests (祈年殿) which dominates the depiction of the Temple of Heaven and sets as the main wallpaper when it comes to this sacred location.


It is also the most visited among all three, possibly marked by the notable distance between each of the worship spots.

The architectural design of the Temple of Heaven is something to be admired.

With respect to the name and the purpose of the temple, one can only expect as much.

Regards to both heaven and the highest form on earth are clearly seen in the layout and overall design of the entire temple complex; with much observations to the fields of ancient Chinese astrology and divination.

The overall design can be distinguished by two main features; circles and squares, where the circle represents Heaven and square symbolizes the Earth.

Most of the constructions are commanded in such design; with even calculations in numbers to observe the solar cycle and seasons, in respecting the flow and design of the universe to ensure goodwill and fortune.

The architecture is complex yet impressive that it has even been referred to as one of the most admirable architectures in civilizations and is earmarked as an example and reference for architectural designs of the far east since then.
It is also another UNESCO World Heritage Site and is widely praised by the west and worldwide for the grandeur of its design.


Worship practices are performed by the Emperor himself, and no one from the common population were ever allowed to spectate the event which remains closed due to its sanctity.
Most of the rites are carefully detailed and can be seen in documented and illustrated form in the museum buildings on each side of the main building (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests).

Heaven and Earth is truly close to each other in the Temple of Heaven, and with such a grand design, Temple of Heaven, may just easily be that piece of Heaven right here on earth.

Heaven is truly a place on earth, after all.






*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
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