Another weekend in the city meant another opportunity to explore.  During one of our first few weekends in the city, we took advantage of all the sights are so easy to see.  This time we headed to the Temple of Heaven and the Pearl Market.

We again used the subway to get there.  The subway is very convenient and easy to navigate.  Depending on where you want to go first, you can either exit on the same side as the Temple of Heaven or on the same side as the Pearl Market.  They’re right across the street from each other with a pedestrian bridge to use to get between the two.

We planned on going to the Temple of Heaven first, but actually ended up going to the Pearl Market first because we saw it across the street from us (we didn’t realize the Temple of Heaven was right there behind us actually!).

The Pearl Market

The Pearl Market consists of two buildings–the Old Pearl Market and the New Pearl Market.  We ended up just going to the old Pearl Market (the front building).  There, you can find more than just have pearls–jade, silk, scarves, electronics, purses, toys, etc.  We did a quick browse through–or at least we tried.  Every aisle we walked down someone was trying to get us to buy whatever they were selling (even if we had already walked by once or twice before and said no).  They even tried grabbing my arm to have me look at something.  It’s not the way that I prefer to shop, so we did a quick tour through the 5 levels or so and made our way to the Temple of Heaven.

Note:  we did go on a Saturday, which is a busier day.  Stay tuned for a later blog post as I went back to the Pearl Market–this time during the week, and I got to visit the new building too. 

Temple of Heaven

On our way to the Temple of Heaven, someone tried offering us a ride in a rickshaw saying we needed to head in the opposite direction we were walking to enter the Temple of Heaven, but we declined and kept walking.  Good thing we did too because there was another entrance just up ahead.  We entered the West Gate, I believe.

The Temple of Heaven had some sections that were very quiet.  There were also some sections that were a bit busy-like where the exact center of the universe is said to be.

The actual Temple of Heaven is to the left and the gate entrance is to the right.
The History as told by Ben
The Emperor would come here every winter solstice to pray to heaven. Everyone believed that the Emperor was actually sent from Heaven, so, on the winter solstice, he would come here to “report back to heaven everything that man was had done that year”. There’s one spot, that’s a small, round stone maybe three feet across which the ancient Chinese believed was the center of the universe. Now it’s the center for all the tourists to gather around and get their photo taken. So many so that we didn’t even bother.
TOTE:  If you can visit places during the week, it might be slightly calmer!