The Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven, set in its own extensive park about 2km to the south of Tienanmen Square, is rightly regarded as the high point of Ming architecture. For five centuries it was the very heart of imperial ceremony and symbolism; every year on the day of the winter solstice the Emperor would be carried in a glittering procession through the streets of Old Peking to perform sacrificial rituals in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, the main building at the temple. The hall is one of Beijing's wonders - made entirely of wood and without the aid of a single nail. The dazzling colours inside are the result of extensive renovation in the 20th century but are totally faithful to the original Ming design.