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Hall of prayer for Good Harvests

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Hall of prayer for Good Harvests, also called Qiniandian, is a circular wooden structure in a unique architectural style. It is the place where emperors came to pray for good harvests on the 15th day of the first lunar month every year.

When the Hall was first constructed in 1420, it took a rectangular shape with the name of great Sacrifice after its counterpart in the Hall of Heaven and Earth in Nanjing. In 1530 the original structure in Beijing was demolished and rebuilt into a circular hall, which adopted the name of Great Enjoyment praying for bumper crops to suffice the populace.

The triple eaves are covered with dark blue glazed tiles, which symbolize the blue sky. The hall itself is 32 meters in height and 30 meters in diameter. It was built on a three-tiered marble terrace, which is a six meters high and occupies more than 5900 square meters in area. This majestic hall looks as if it was a colossus that might prop up the sky from the ground.

The timber-structured hall looks both august and splendid. But the interior framework is by far the more distinctive. No beams, no crossbeams, no nails, the vault is solely supported by 28 massive wooden pillars and a number of bars, lathes, joints and rafters, which are integrated into a reinforced frame to keep up the bulk of the hall. All the 28 pillars are emblematic of the 28 constellations. The four pillars in the center, called the "Dragon Well Pillars", are 18.5 meters high and 1.2 meters in diameter.

Annexe halls:

On each side of the hall there stand one row of s where gods of secondary significance were consecrated. They are the gods of the Sun, the Moon and the Stars along with those of Rain, Thunder, and Lightning. Currently these halls have been changed into exhibition rooms for displaying ritual musical instruments of the past empire.
Outside the eastern gate of this courtyard stands the Long Gallery, generally known as the "seventy-two connected houses", through which articles of ritual sacrifice were delivered from the imperial kitchen to the altar where delivered from the imperial kitchen to the altar where ceremonies took place.

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