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Temple of Heaven, Beijing

The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in southeastern urban Beijing, in Xuanwu District. Construction of the complex began in 1420, and was thereafter visited by all subsequent Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties. It is regarded as a Taoist temple, although the worship of Heaven, especially by the reigning monarch of the day, pre-dates Taoism.

The Temple grounds covers 2.73 km² of parkland, and comprises three main groups of constructions, all built according to strict philosophical requirements:

The Earthly Mount is the altar proper. It is an empty platform on three levels of marble stones, where the Emperor prayed for favourable weather;
The House of Heavenly Lord, a single-gabled circular building, built on a single level of marble stone base, where the altars were housed when not in use;
The Hall of Annual Prayer , a magnificent triple-gabled circular building, built on three levels of marble stone base, where the Emperor prayed for good harvests

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