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Altar of Earth

Ditan coverd with snowOriginally built in 1530, or the 9th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing, the Ditan (Altar of Earth) is located at Andingmenwai Street, Dongcheng District, the northern suburb of the capital during the Ming Dynasty. For some four centuries, Altar of Earth was the sacred place where the emperors Of the Ming and Qing dynasties worshipped the God of Earth. The Altar was no longer used after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and became a public park in 1925. Starting from 1 986, the annually Ditan Cultural Temple Fair was held here during the Spring Festival.

Altar of Earth

The original Altar of Earth is surrounded by two square enclosures, both painted red and surmounted with yellow glazed tiles. Both inner and outer enclosures have triple white marble gates to the north and one gate to the east, south and west. Facing north, the two-tiered altar surfaced with flagstones is square in shape, which symbolizes the ancient Chinese believing of "the sky is round and the earth is square". Each terrace is more than one meter high and has a flight of eight steps leading up to it. The numbers of construction members, as a distinct from which of the Temple of Heaven, are all even numbers, symbols of the earth.

For instance, multiples of six and eight are recurred several times in the arrangement of the square flagstones. There are also such subsidiary sacrificial structures as the Huangzhishi (House of the God of Earth), Zaishengting (Abattoir Pavilion), Zhaigong (Palace of Abstinence), and Shenku (Divine Warehouse) around Altar of Earth.

 

Altar of Earth Tour

Since very near to the Lama Temple, after the tour to Altar of Earth, tourists could also pay a visit to the Lama Temple to learn more about the history and the culture.