Name of the Building:
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest which is a building included in The Temple of Heaven complex
There are no details about the architects who designed and built the Hall but the complex of The Temple of Heaven was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Yongle Emperor: Born 2 May 1360 – Died 12 August 1424. Born with the name of Zhu Di, the Yongle Emperor of Ming Dinasty embarked on an unprecedented series of ambitious projects. He lengthened and widened the Grand Canal, which carried grain and other goods from southern China to Beijing in the north. He built the Forbidden City and made it the capital of China. He was also involved in several wars and he personally led a number of attacks against the Mongols, who threatened the Ming's domination of the North of China.
Description of the complex where the building is:
The Temple of Heaven, founded in the first half of the 15th Century, is a complex of fine cult buildings set in gardens and surrounded by historic pine woods. It symbolizes the relationship between earth and heaven – the human world and God's world – which stands at the heart of Chinese culture, and also the special role played by the emperors within that relationship.
The architecture and layout of The Temple of Heaven is based on elaborate symbolism and numerology. In accordance with principles dating back to pre-Confucian times, the buildings in the Temple of Heaven are round, like the sky, while the foundations and axes of the complex are rectilinear, like the earth. Three principle structures lie along the primary north-south axis of the Temple of Heaven: The Circular Mound Altar, The Imperial Vault of Heaven and Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
History of the building:
The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests is the highlight of the Temple of Heaven. Original built in 1420 (during the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dinasty), the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests was the earliest building of the Temple of Heaven, and was also called the Hall of Great Sacrifice.
In 1751 (during the reign of Qianlong), it was restored and named the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. The hall was destroyed by a thunderbolt in 1889 (during the reign of Guangxun) and rebuilt as it was a few years later.
Details about the building:
The hall is a cone-shaped structure with triple eaves. The circular hall is 32 meters in diameter and 38 meters high, with a gilded knob on the top, and three double eaves on the way up. The blue eaves are covered with blue glazed tiles, symbolic of the sky.
The internal structure of the hall is unique, using 28 massive wooden pillars and 36 square rafters, interlocked without nails to support the entire structure. There is no steel and cement used.
The four dragon pillars in the center are 19 meters high and 1.2 meters in diameter, representing the four seasons. The twelve gold pillars in the middle circle represent the 12 months of the year, and the 12 pillars in the outer circle represent the 12 divisions of day and night.
The 24 pillars together in the middle and outer circles represent the twenty-four solar terms of a year. And the 28 pillars taken together represent the lunar mansions. A circular marble stone with naturally-occurring dragon and phoenix patterns lies in the center of the hall.
The hall lies on the a circular marble base, which covers an area of 5,900 square meters, six meters high and divided into three tiers. Each floor has marble railings with flowery carvings. There are other rectangular, blue-roofed buildings standing around the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.
The Hall is a cone-shaped structure
It has three roofs. Originally, the tiles of each roof were painted in different colors. The top was blue, which symbolized Heaven, the middle was yellow to symbolize the emperor and the bottom was green to represent commoners. Now all the tiles are blue to follow the color of the sky.
The hall is 32 meters high and 30 meters in diameter. In the past, the hall was one of the highest buildings in Beijing.
Despite its size, only 28 massive wooden pillars support the entire structure.
In 1998, the Temple of Heaven was inscribed on the World Heritage List by the UNESCO.