- Three Glazed Gates of the Imperial Vault of Heaven -
This page was last updated: July 5, 2017
The Imperial Vault of Heaven stands directly North of the Circular Mound, or rounded Altar at the Temple of Heaven Park.
Constructed in conjunction with the remodeling of the Round Altar into the Altar of (Worshipping) Heaven in the year 1530 AD, the Imperial Vault is another later addition to the Temple of Heaven Complex, which itself was originally conceived in the year 1420 AD, during the Yongle Reign of the Ming Dynasty.
The Imperial Vault is an important structure closely related in function to the Round Altar of Worshipping Heaven. It is enclosed by its own high circular wall which is pierced by only three heavy gates. Inside the circular protective Wall stand three structures: the Imperial Vault itself, and two adnex Halls.
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The Imperial Vault of Heaven itself is a circular wooden Hall structure with a double-eaved roof. The entire hall is elevated on its own Platform of White Marble and stands at a total of 19.3 meters in height, with 15.6 meters in diameter. The roofs of the Imperial Vault
and adnex structures are all covered by the special Blue-Glazed Tiles that are specific to the Temple of Heaven. The Roof of the Imperial Vault is further crowned by a guilded sphere, marking it's holy importance. Inside the Hall is a colorful coffered ceiling in blue and green design, intermixed with 100's of coiling golden lotus flowers. In the center is a large golden dragon playing with a Pearl. The Hall appears to be a miniature version of it's sister Hall, the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvests, more to
View of the Imperial Vault of Heaven's circular outer Wall. The Imperial Vault was enclosed because it housed priceless spiritual items of the utmost importance and power.
The Gates into the Imperial Vault are a central gathering spot inside the Park. From here dwell in three directions or
return to the South Gate.
the North inside the Park.
Three Gates lead into the Vault. The middle one reserved for Gods and Emperors, the others now entrance and exit for tourist groups pooring through daily.
Local residents of Beijing often come to the Park to do their daily Tai Chi and other exercises. Dancing is also common.
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Initially named the "Hall for appeasing Gods" after its construction in 1530 AD, it was reconstructed again and renamed the "Imperial Vault of Heaven" only 8 years later in 1538 AD at about the Time the Temple Complex was officially renamed into Temple of Heaven. During the remainder of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Imperial Vault of Heaven served as the main Celestial Treasure House of the Circular Mound Altar (The Heaven Worshipping Altar) and was the place where the Tablets of the Heavenly God(s) were stored safely when not in use for the ceremonies. The imperial vault was a protected safe for storing priceless and powerful holy relics of unimaginable value to the entire nation. Hence its thick and high walls, and the minimum of gates to restrict access to the Relics.
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The Vault initially had a different interior architecture, but was
reconstructed into it's current day shape in 1752 AD, during the reign of Qianlong in the Qing Dynasty. One of the most powerful, succesful and longest reigning Emperors of the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong was an Emperor responsible
Close Up of the Main and Middle Gate of the Imperial Vault. The Gates are National
Cultural Relics that have their own unique color-schemes,a highpoint of ming glaze architecture unique in the world.
The exterior of the Imperial Vault enclosure Wall has its own very distinct architectural feautures, which are unique in the Park and in Beijing. The Wall itself is solid but not solemn, due to a choice of lightly colored gray brick with a polished, then glazed surface. The Three main Gates are a mighty sight, however look playful and attractive. The gray bricks, face the direction of sunlight and light up brightly. Lined with a minimalist subtle green and golden glazed tile motif, they are topped off with brilliant and intriguingly blue rooftiles. Their bright red doors with golden studs contrast, and make the picture complete. It is an architectural masterpiece.
Detail of hand-drawn scroll depicting the Imperial Vault of Heaven and its 2 annex halls inside a circular enclosing wall. The echo wall.
Details of the Three Gates of the Imperial Vault of Heaven. Not only due to blue tiles have a glaze uniquely found at the
Temple of Heaven, the green tiles have a unique motif and even the
bricks in the Wall have been polished, then glazed.
Study the Gates carefully and enjoy the playful architecture or just have a look around to enjoy the scenes at the Imperial Vault of Heaven Entrance. This is a cross-point on the central axis of the Temple of Heaven Park. Tourist groups flock in from the south in waves, while others loiter outside the Imperial Vault to have a stop, rest and or a drink. Local Beijingers often congregate here for Tai Chi sessons, which are mainly held
Follow the main tour route and central axis of the Park and enter inside the Imperial Vault Enclosure to see and find out more of the Imperial Vault and it's unique architectural features. Entrance is through the right hand Gate where you will need a full tour ticket to be allowed entry into the Vault. Full Tickets are available at each park Gate and Ticket Office.
View of the Imperial Vault Hall past white marble, buddhist motifs and a heavy red wooden door.
Once inside the enclosure there is plenty more to explore and discover. Try out the peculiar effects of the Echo Wall. There is more than one effect to be tried. Other feautures, the main hall and two adnex Halls are also certainly worthwhile. Get a
Last glimpse of the Round Altar and its LingXing Gates and get on going.
Gate and the Bridge of Vermillion. To the Left and West lie more green stretches of the Park featuring some interesting Ceramic Elephants and the Fasting Palace, a recently renovated and reopened part of Tiantan Park. On the other side, the right and East the Park lies open with Green all the way to the West Wall. Head there to get away from all the
crowds. In all directions new architectural
Last glimpse southward of the LingXing Gates of the round altar of worshipping heaven.
A Satellite Image of most of Chongwen District, including the Imperial Vault of Heaven at Tiantan Park. It is just visible on the lower edge of the Image.
Full Ticket of Temple of Heaven Park with 4 taring strips.
This page was last updated on: July 5, 2017
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