Located in the southern part of Beijing, the Temple of Heaven is China’s largest existing complex of ancient sacrificial buildings. It was built in 1420 and was visited by the Ming and Qing emperors for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest. The main buildings include the Altar of Prayer for Good Harvests, Imperial Vault of Heaven, and Circular Mound Altar, all built along the north-south axis.
The temple was constructed to be three times the size of the Forbidden City because the emperors dared not to build their residence, the Forbidden City, larger than a dwelling for Heaven. The unique geometric layout of the structure reflects the ancient Chinese belief that the heaven was round and the earth was square. Known as a supreme achievement of traditional Chinese architecture, the Temple of Heaven was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998