The Temple of the Sun (Ri Tan) served as an altar where the emperor conducted annual rites. Built in 1530, Ri Tan is a pleasant park with a delightful outdoor teahouse and a rock-climbing wall at its heart. Fishponds, a pedal-powered monorail, kites, and a bonsai market also keep the locals amused.
The other imperial altars are located in similar city parks, roughly marking the five points of the Chinese compass. To the north is Di Tan Gongyuan (Temple of Earth), just north of the Lama Temple; to the west is Yue Tan Gongyuan (Temple of the Moon); the much grander Tian Tan Gongyuan (Temple of Heaven) marks the southern point. She Ji Tan (Altar of Land and Grain) in Zhongshan Gongyuan southwest of the Forbidden City, pre-dates them all by several centuries, and marks that peculiarly Chinese compass point, the center.
- © Frommer's 2013
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