Temple of Heaven, Beijing


Temple of Heaven, Pekin
c.1910

Street View.

UNESCO World Heritage listing

The Temple of Heaven, or more literally the Altar of Heaven is a temple of Chinese religion used for imperial ceremonies for five centuries. Its buildings are situated in their own large and tranquil park in southeast Beijing.

Construction of the Temple of Heaven began during the reign of Emperor Yongle was completed in 1420. It was used by all subsequent Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In imperial China, the emperor was regarded as the Son of Heaven, the intermediary between Earth and Heaven. To be seen to be showing respect to the source of his authority, in the form of sacrifices to heaven, was extremely important. The Temple of Heaven was built for these ceremonies.
Sacred Destinations

The temple complex was constructed from 1406 to 1420 during the reign of the Yongle Emperor, who was also responsible for the construction of the Forbidden City in Beijing. The complex was extended and renamed Temple of Heaven during the reign of the Jiajing Emperor in the 16th century. Jiajing also built three other prominent temples in Beijing, the Temple of the Sun (日壇) in the east, the Temple of Earth (地壇) in the north, and the Temple of Moon (月壇) in the west. The Temple of Heaven was renovated in the 18th century under the Qianlong Emperor. By then, the state budget was insufficient, so this was the last large-scale renovation of the temple complex in imperial times.

The temple was occupied by the Anglo-French Alliance during the Second Opium War. In 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion, the Eight Nation Alliance occupied the temple complex and turned it into the force’s temporary command in Beijing, which lasted for one year. The occupation desecrated the temple and resulted in serious damage to the building complex and the garden. Robberies of temple artifacts by the Alliance were also reported. With the downfall of the Qing, the temple complex was left un-managed. The neglect of the temple complex led to the collapse of several halls in the following years. In 1914, Yuan Shikai, then President of the Republic of China, performed a Ming prayer ceremony at the temple, as part of an effort to have himself declared Emperor of China. In 1918 the temple was turned into a park and for the first time open to the public.
Wikipedia

Qinian Hall (Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests) is most magnificent building in the Temple of Heaven. It is a wooden triple-gable circular pavilion which is 38 meters high with a three-level marble stone base. The ancient emperors prayed for good harvests here. There are 28 pillars propping up the hall. The inner 4 pillars are large, and stand for four seasons. The middle 12 pillars represent the twelve months. The outer 12 pillars indicate 12 periods of a day.

Huangqiongyu Hall (The Imperial Vault of Heaven) is smaller with only one circular gable and one level of marble stone base compared with Qinian Hall. It is the place to enshrine the worshiping tablets of Gods. Inside the hall are pillars and vault decorated by beautiful paintings and carvings. Outside is a circular wall – Echo Wall which can transmit sounds over long distances.

Huanqiu Altar (The Circular Mound Altar) is an empty circular platform with three levels of marble stones. Vivid dragons were carved on the stones to stand for the emperors. The number nine stands for power as well as the emperors in ancient China. You will surprisedly find the balusters and steps are either the sacred number nine or its multiples. In the ancient time, the emperors burn the offerings for Heaven in a stove on the platform.
China Discovery

Kohfukuji, Nara


Pagoda of Kofukuji and Hananomatsu, Nara
松の花及塔重五寺福興良奈

Five-storied pagoda in the Kohfukuji Buddhist temple complex. Hananomatsu is the tree.

Google Street View

Kofukuji used to be the family temple of the Fujiwara, the most powerful aristocratic clan during much of the Nara and Heian Periods. The temple was established in Nara at the same time as the capital in 710. At the height of Fujiwara power, the temple consisted of over 150 buildings.
Japan-guide.com

Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. During this period the framework of national government was consolidated and Nara enjoyed great prosperity, emerging as the fountainhead of Japanese culture.
Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara (UNESCO)

The Five-Story Pagoda, which was completely restored in 1426, is the second tallest pagoda in Japan at 50.1m, behind the 55m-tall pagoda at Toji Temple in Kyoto. The pagoda had burnt down no less than five times before the 15th century.
Japan Visitor

From the temple website:

History of Kohfukuji
In the eighth year of the reign of Emperor Tenji (669 CE), Kagami no Okimi, consort of the statesman Nakatomi (Fujiwara) no Kamatari, founded a Buddhist chapel on the family estate in Yamashina Suehara (in modern-day Kyoto Prefecture) to pray for Kamatari’s recovery from illness. In this temple, which came to be known as Yamashinadera, Kagami no Okimi enshrined a Shaka triad (Sakyamuni, the historical Buddha, along with two attendant Bodhisattvas) that had originally been commissioned by Kamatari. In the wake of the relocation of the capital as a result of the Jinshin Rebellion of 672, the temple was disassembled and moved to Umayasaka in Nara prefecture, where it was re-erected and named Umayasakadera.

Shortly after the establishment of the Heijo Capital in 710, Yamashinadera relocated to its present location in what is now the city of Nara. The temple, now called Kohfukuji (“The Temple that Generates Blessings”), grew rapidly in size under the patronage of successive emperors and empresses, as well as continued support from members of the powerful Fujiwara family. Over time, it developed a particularly close connection with the “Northern House” of the Fujiwara clan, under whose sponsorship it accumulated sufficient wealth and power to rank as one of the “Four Great Temples” of the Nara Period (710-784) and one of the “Seven Great Temples” of the Heian Period (794-1180).
The Kohfukuji Temple Complex

THE FIVE-STORIED PAGODA
The five-storied pagoda was originally erected in 730 by Empress Komyo, the daughter of Kohfukuji’s founding patron, Fujiwara no Fuhito. Over its long history, the building burned down a total of five times, with the current reconstruction dating to around the year 1426. At a total height of 50.1 meters, it is the second tallest wooden pagoda in Japan today. Famous for its deep eaves, the structure successfully blends references to Nara-period architecture with the dynamic architectural style of the medieval period. The original Nara-period building is thought to have risen to a height of around 45 meters, making it the tallest man-made structure in Japan at the time.

The Kohfukuji Temple Complex: the Five Storied Pagoda

Hananomatsu
On the stone monument is written “Monument of Hananomatsu”.
Actually, there was a pine tree in front of the Tokondo hall.
It was called Hananomatsu.
It is said that the pine trees were planted by Kobo Daishi.
Kobo Daishi is the posthumous name of the priest called Kukai about 1,200 years ago.
Kukai is the one who opened a new sect of Buddhism called Shingon sect.
For this reason, he has a name that respects Kobo Daishi.
The pine grew big, but it withered in 1937.
In 1940, successor pine was planted.
But that pine withered in 2008.
Thereafter, pines have not been planted there.

Tourist Spots in Kyoto, Nara, Osaka

Wikipedia
Wikipedia Commons

Rumeli Hisarı, Istanbul


CONSTANTINOPLE — Roumeli Hissar

Constantinople — also known as, amongst other things, Byzantium, New Rome, Kostantiniyye, Islambol, Stamboul, Astanih and (since c.1930 although also before) Istanbul

There is, as you might expect, some debate about the origin of the name Istanbul, but the dominant theory is that it’s a local corruption of the the Greek phrase eis tan polin “in the city” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Constantinople is, obviously, Constantine’s City.

Rumeli Hisarı was a 15th century fortress, built to the north of the city. Approximately here on Google Street View (the two main towers can be seen).

At the narrowest part of the Bosphorus, Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror ordered the great fortress of Rumeli Hisarı to be built on the European shore in order to control commercial and military traffic in preparation for the siege of Constantinople. He pitted his pashas (generals) against one another, daring them all to be the first to complete his particular tower and crenellated walls. The competition was fierce, and the huge fortress was completed in only four months.

Once completed, Rumeli Hisarı, along with Anadolu Hisarı on the Asian shore just opposite, controlled all traffic on the Bosphorus, and cut the city of Constantinople off from resupply by sea from the north. The mighty fortress’s useful military life was less than one year. Mehmet’s armines conquered the Byzantine capital several months later, and then there was no need for Rumeli Hisarı.
Turkey Travel Planner

The Rumeli Fortress (Rumelihisari) is located on the European (Rumeli) side of the Bosphorus. It was built by Mehmed II in four months beginning in the spring of 1452 across the waters from the Anatolian Fortress (Anadoluhisari or Güzelce Hisar) built by his grandfather Bayezid I (1389-1402). The aim was to establish control of the waterway at this narrowest point of the strait (660m) where ships would need to approach the shore to avoid the strong currents. A batallion of four hundred soldiers were stationed at the fortress (hisar) beginning in 1452, and prevented the passage of ships with canon fire during the siege of Constantinople. It is hence, also known as the Bogazkesen or the Controller of the Straits.
Archnet vis the WayBack Machine.

Certosa di Pavia, Lombardy, Italy


Certosa di Pavia – Lavabo del piccolo chiostro ed affresco del Bergognone.

On the back (in French, English & German):
CARTHUSIAN MONASTERY OF PAVIA: Place for washing in the small cloister and fresco by Bergognone.

Google Street View.

The Certosa di Pavia is a monastery and complex in Lombardy, northern Italy, situated near a small town of the same name in the Province of Pavia, 8 km north of Pavia. Built in 1396-1495, it was once located on the border of a large hunting park belonging to the Visconti family of Milan, of which today only scattered parts remain. It is one of the largest monasteries in Italy.
Wikipedia.