Architectural Odyssey

The Ancestral Temple

Updated: Aug 15, 2019 Print
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Front view of the Hall of Sacrifice [Photo/VCG]

Lying to the southeast of the Forbidden City, the Ancestral Temple (today's Beijing Working People's Cultural Palace) was the venue for ancestral worship both in the Ming and the Qing dynasties, from the early 15th to the early 20th century. Enclosed by a triple layer of vermillion walls, the Ancestral Temple covers an area of 197,000 square meters and bears a close resemblance to the architectural style of the Forbidden City. The centerpiece of the Temple is a succession of three regal halls standing along the central axis on three tiers of white-marble terraces, each covered with the yellow-glazed hip roof -- color and style exclusive to China's imperial family. The front hall, known as the Hall of Sacrifice (Xiang dian), was where sacrificial ceremonies were held.


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