The northern part of the wall enclosing the complex is semicircular symbolizing the heavens and the southern part is square symbolizing the earth. The northern part is also higher than the southern part, showing that heaven is high and the earth is low. This design reflects an ancient Chinese thought of ‘the heaven is round and the earth is square’.
The long roadway from the south to north is known as the Imperial bridge as it slopes upwards rising above the ordinary ground level from the circular mound altar to the Hall of prayer for good harvest. The Temple is divided by two encircling walls into an inner part and outer part. The main buildings lie at the south and north ends of the middle axis of the inner part. The most magnificent buildings are the Circular Mound Altar (Huanqiutan)
the Imperial Vault of Heaven (Huangqiongyu)
and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest (Qiniandian) from south to north.
This post is an extract of my mother’s travel journal written during a tour of China in 2013.