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Deciphering city codes: the Central Axis of Beijing

The Heavenly Bridge (Tianqiao): A bridge used by emperors

Updated: Jun 7, 2022 govt.chinadaily.com.cn Print
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The new Tianqiao Bridge is located on Beijing’s central axis. [Photo/VCG]

The Tianqiao Bridge was built in the Yuan Dynasty. It served as a passage for the imperial family to go to the temples to worship gods of heaven and earth. In the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty, it was transformed into a white marble single-span arch bridge, and linked the road taken by emperors. Since Chinese emperors took the monarchical title of Son of Heaven (tianzi), the bridge was therefore called the Heavenly Bridge. However, as time passed by, the original river under the bridge became fouled.

In 1934, in order to widen the road from the Gate of the Zenith Sun to the Gate of the Eternal Stability (Yongding men), the bridge was demolished and ceased to exist.

Today the bridge area is home to many theatres. [Photo/VCG]

However, the bridge name is still used and has become an important landmark in the southern section of the central axis. It is close to many theaters and commodity markets, including the Tianqiao Theatre, the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, and the Deyun Club.

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