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Temple of Heaven & Tourist Map

The Temple of Heaven is a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world's great civilizations. The symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries. For more than two thousand years China was ruled by a series of feudal dynasties, the legitimacy of which is symbolized by the design and layout of the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th century, is a dignified complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. In its overall layout and that of its individual buildings, It symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven-the human world and God's world which stands at the heart of Chinese cosmogony, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship. The Temple of Heaven is much bigger than the Forbidden City and smaller than the Summer Palace with an area of about 2,700,000 square meters. The Temple was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. It is enclosed with a long wall. The northern part within the wall is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is higher than the southern part. This design shows that the heaven is high and the earth is low and the design reflected an ancient Chinese thought of 'The heaven is round and the earth is square'.