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Beijing - The Temple of Heaven

    The Temple of Heaven(Tiantan), is located in the Chongwen district in the south part of Beijing, about 6km away from the center of the city. It was built in 1420 during a time when many other important structures were constructed in Beijing. Tiantan served as a place of ceremony and ritual for the Ming and Qing emperors. 
The Palace of Abstinence is located near the western entrance of the temple. Before each ceremony, emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties held a three-day fast during summer and winter solstice.
   The emperors spent two days fasting in the Forbidden City and completed the three-day fast in the Palace of Abstinence. The beamless hall was one of the most famous buildings in Beijing. South of the Echo wall stands the Altar of Heaven, built entirely of white marble. The altar has four entrances and a flight of nine steps leading down in every direction. At the center of the upper terrace lies a round stone surrounded by nine concentric rings of stones.
   Even the numbers of the carved balustrades on these terraces are also multiples of nine. When you stand in the center of the upper terrace and speak in a low voice, your voice will echo back much louder to yourself than to others, as the sound waves are reflected back by the marble balustrades to the focal point at the center.
   The main building in the compound is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The entire structure was joint by wooden bars, laths and brackets, without using steel and concrete. The four large pillars in the center are known as the Dragon Well Pillars with each pillar representing one of the four seasons.

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