Matsimitsu

Day One

China - Temple of Heaven


Our first stop is Beijing, where we go on a 72 hour transfer visa. This visa does not require anything upfront, which is quite new. At Schiphol they check your visa before boarding and when it was our turn and told them we didn't have one, we could hear the sighs of the people behind us.

It took a good couple of minutes of explaining and verifying before we could board. In their defense, the visa is for 72 hours maximum and between landing in Beijing and taking off again where 71 hours and fourty minutes.

After an 8.5 hour flight from Amsterdam and a very confusing ride to our hotel we finally made it to Beijing!

We decided to head to the Temple of Heaven, a giant park with temples and people playing card games, as it was quite close to our hotel near the Forbidden City.

Map of Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Temple of Heaven, Beijing (天坛)

Built in 1420 in the Ming Dynasty, this complex is four times bigger than the most famous landmark in Beijing, the Forbidden City.

In the morning the park in the complex is mostly used by the elderly to exercise, some do Tai Chi and others Chinese Kung Fu.

Originally, the complex was used by emperors to perform ceremonies to ask the gods for a good harvest. Three days before the ceremony, the emperor started fasting in a dedicated building before performing the cermony.

Beijing
Long corridor at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Long corridor

On the map above, there's a corridor on the right, this Long corridor us used by locals to stay out of the sun and play games.

Poeple playing games in the Long corridor at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing Poeple playing games in the Long corridor at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Poeple playing games in the Long corridor at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Hall of prayer

Next was the main attraction of the complex, the Hall of prayer, or Altar of Prayer. This is the place where the worship ceremonies were held.

Hall of prayer at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Hall of prayer for good harvests at at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing Hall of prayer for good harvests at at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Hall of prayer for good harvests at at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Hall of prayer at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing View of square around the Hall of prayer at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Seventy year old door

Mislabeled on the map as the "Sixty year old door", this door was built for the emperor to take a shortcut so he didn't have to walk that far due to his age.

He didn't want his children to use this gate so he made a rule that only emperors above the age of 70 can use this gate. After his death no other emperor made it to the age of 70, so the gate has been unused since then.

Sixty-year old door at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Roof ornaments at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing Door ornaments at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
View through the gate at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing View of the North Heaven gate at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Imperial Vault of Heaven

Located at the south side of the complex, this vault was used to store the tablets, used in the ceremony.

View at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Altars at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing View at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
View through the gate at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing View through the gate at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

Palace of Abstinence

Two days before the ceremony the emperor would move to the Palace of Abstinence where he would fast to show the imperial respect to the god.

Closed gate at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Gardens at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing Two bridges at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
Dried up mote at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing Open gate at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

After wandering through the park/complex some more, we headed for the exit, it was getting late and we were quite jetlagged.

Entrance of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing

As dutchies, it was nice to see another country embracing the good old bycicle.

Chinese sign in Beijing
Cyclists in Beijing Cyclist in Beijing
Person pushing a wheelchir on Qinian Daje in Beijing

Though there were plenty of cars on wide avenues too, but overall the part where our hotel was had plenty of trees and other greenery.

Thoroughfare in in Beijing
Church in Beijing Airconditioner in Beijing