The Circular Mound Altar is an outdoor empty circular platform on three levels of marble stones, located in Beijing. It is part of the Temple of Heaven.
It was constructed in 1530, during the 9th year of Emperor Jiajing’s reign of the Ming Dynasty, and enlarged in 1749 (the 14th year of the Emperor Qianlong’s reign of the Qing Dynasty). The round terrace was first covered with deep blue glazed slabs surrounded with a white marble balustrade when it was expanded. It has a circular perimeter of 534m and a height of 5.2m
This altar was also build for religious purposes, especially for ceremonies to pray for rain by the emperor in times of drought. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1911 AD), the emperors would offer sacrifices to Heaven on the day of the Winter Solstice every year. Sacrificial animals and other offerings w
ere burned here to ensure good harvests. A common animal slaughtered here was the bull, which the people would set on fire as a sacrifice of prosperity. This ceremony was to thank Heaven and pray that everything would be good in the future.