So where do you go in Beijing on the first sunny day of your visit? You could do worse than the Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven complex was built around 1420 by the same emperor responsible for the Forbidden City. Makes me wonder if these great public works were a way of providing employment to the masses – the ‘shovel ready’ projects of their day.
This is actually the ‘Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests’ within the temple complex that comprises several other buildings, courtyards and parkland. The dark blue tile of the roof represent heaven.
Of course, nothing is what it seems. The original burned down in a fire in 1889 and what we see today was rebuilt several years later. The structure is apparently completely wooden with no nails or other metal fasteners holding it together – quite a feat.
South of this hall is a smaller, single gabled, circular hall called the ‘Imperial Vault of Heaven’. It is surrounded by a smooth circular wall that can transmit sounds over long distances and is known as the ‘Echo Wall‘. This would be where I took the photo of the young lady yesterday and confirms what I thought – the shape of the wall acts as a wave guide and the young lady is probably listening to a friend some distance away from her.
I think it’s also interesting to note that back in 1991, no one was apparently bothered by not having a smart phone. I’d wager a similar scene today would capture a number of people head down in their screens, oblivious to their surroundings.