china edition


Ritan Park

The Temple of the Sun (Ritan) served as an altar where the emperor conducted annual rites. Built in 1530, Ritan 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 5 points of the Chinese compass. To the north is Ditan Gongyuan (Temple of Earth), just north of the Lama Temple; to the west is Yuetan Gongyuan (Temple of the Moon); the much grander Tiantan Gongyuan (Temple of Heaven) marks the southern point. Shejitan (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.