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Altar of the Sun

stone archway of RitanThe Ritan (Altar of the Sun), also known as the Zhaoritan (Altar of the Rising Sun), is located in Chaoyang District, the eastern suburbs of the Ming capital. As its name suggests, the altar was the site of imperial sacrifices to the God of the Sun. It was initially built in 1530, the 9th year of reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing, and was restored and enlarged during the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong.

 

Altar of the Sun

The Altar of the Sun is a square white marble terrace, almost 2 meters in height. Also reflecting the ancient believing that the sky is round, the altar is surrounded by round walls. There are three white Lingxing (Literate Star)Gates in the western wall, and one in each of the other three sides. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, on the day of Spring Equinox (the 4th solar term)in every year, the emperor would hold ceremony to worship the God of Sun here.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, the Beijing Government began a project of afforestation, as well as enlarged and converted the area into Altar of the Sun and changed it into Ritan Park. Many new scenic spots were added to the park, such as Mudanyuan (Peony Garden), Qinghuiting (Pavilion of Clear Sunshine), Quchishengchunyuan (Garden of Curving Pond and the Roses Surpassing that in the Spring-time), Jiri (Worshipping the Sun)Screen, and so on.

 

Altar of the Sun Tour

During the tour to Altar of the Sun, in addition to enjoy the beautiful scenery tourists could also learn more about the custom of sacrifice in the ancient times.