Meet your guide in your hotel lobby at your preferred time, and begin your tour of the extensive imperial altar complex, whose origins stretch back nearly 600 years.
Stroll around the temple’s leafy park, and see Beijing’s elderly enjoying their morning exercises, dances, and martial arts. As you watch, learn about retirement in China and the daily lives of its older citizens.
Next, make your way to the temple showpiece: the 15th-century Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests. Constructed without a single nail, this magnificent circular wooden building boasts three blue-tile roofs and an ornate interior. Take a look around and hear how China’s emperors came here to pray for bountiful harvests.
Visit the Danbi Bridge, the temple’s main pathway, and pass the Emperors’ Changing Room, where the royals dressed for their prayers. See the 9-Dragon Juniper, a 500-year-old tree resembling climbing dragons; and visit the Imperial Vault of Heaven, where Ming- and Qing-era emperors worshipped heaven during the winter solstice.
Admire the richly decorated vault pavilion with its surrounding Echo Wall, and see the Circular Mound Altar, where sacrifices were offered to the gods.
Afterward, your tour concludes when your guide leaves you at the temple’s South Gate.