Imperial Vault of Heaven
The Imperial Vault of Heaven, one of three main structures of the UNESCO-listed Temple of Heaven, is a top Beijing attraction. Built during the Ming Dynasty in 1530 and rebuilt in 1752, the Imperial Vault of Heaven once housed the tablets of the emperors’ ancestors, used in rituals and ceremonies, and the tablet of the God of Heaven.
Inside the temple grounds, you’ll find the Imperial Vault of Heaven located between the Circular Mound Altar and the Hall of Prayer of Good Harvests. A round pavilion structure made of wood and brick, the building features a double-eave blue-tiled roof topped by a gilded ball. The grounds surrounding the structure include the circular Echo Wall, which also encloses the Three Echo Stone, the Dialogue Stone, the East Annex Hall, and the West Annex Hall.
Numerous sightseeing tours include the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Temple of Heaven, along with Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the Summer Palace. For a more personal and customized temple experience, opt for a private tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is a must-see for first-time visitors to Beijing.
To access the Imperial Vault of Heaven, purchase an entry ticket for the Temple of Heaven.
Wear comfortable shoes and plan to spend at least 90 minutes exploring the temple complex and park.
The temple grounds are wheelchair and stroller accessible; however, the Imperial Vault of Heaven building is not.
How to Get There
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is located in the southern part of central Beijing within the Temple of Heaven. Take the subway to Tiantan Dongmen (Line 5) for the East Gate or Qiaowan (Line 7) for the North Gate. A number of buses stop near the South and West gates.
When to Get There
The Imperial Vault of Heaven is open daily. Expect large crowds during peak tourist season in the summer and on weekends and public holidays. Visit early in the morning to see locals practicing tai chi.
Hearing the Echo Stones
The Echo Wall offers several places where a whisper quiet sound can be heard elsewhere. At the Three Echo Stone, a sound will echo once if made on the first stone, twice if made on the second, and three times if made on the third. At the Dialogue Stone, you can have a conversation with someone standing at the northeast corner of the East Annex Hall or the northwest corner of the West Annex Hall.
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- Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest
- Temple of Heaven (Tiantan)
- Pearl Market (Hongqiao Market)
- Qianmen Street
- Liyuan Theatre
- Huguang Guild Hall
- The Legend of Kung Fu Show
- Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (Maozhuxi Jinian Tang)
- Marco Polo Bridge (Lugou Qiao)
- Monument to the People’s Heroes
- National Museum of China (NAMOC)
- Great Hall of the People
- Wangfujing Street (Wangfujing Dajie)
- Tiananmen (Gate of Heavenly Peace)
- National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA)