The enchanting Altar of the Moon, also known as Yuetan Park inherits a rich historical legacy. Initially called Xiyue Altar this was the location where the emperors of the Qing and Ming Dynasties proffered sacrifices to the deity of the moon and the deities of the stars. Many of the old buildings still stand today, and it was only in 1955 that it was converted into a park.
Most of the location’s highlights are located in the northern section of the park which contains numerous old buildings that house the venerated Altar of the Moon. This altar features a square raised platform with white glazing to represent the moon; there are six stairs on each of the sides. There are stone gates on the walls on each of the sides.
Outside the eastern gate you will see the Jufu Palace, which is the location where the emperor would change his clothes and take a rest. The three main halls of this palace all face south and are roofed with glazed green tiles. On the beams of the building are typical Chinese artworks and inside the edifice you will see a tablet marked by Emperor Qianlong himself.
To the southwest the visitor will encounter the Holy Kitchen ‘Shen Chu’, the Holy Storehouse ‘Shen Ku’ and the Zaisheng Pavilion where animals were slaughtered. The Holy Kitchen which faces south is where offerings were proffered, whilst the Holy Storehouse, facing east features the tablets dedicated to the Moon God.
Beyond the northern gate visitors will see a bell tower which contains a huge brass bell on the second floor. This massive bell perfectly resembles the original bell which was cast at the time of the Ming Dynasty.
On the other hand the southern section of the park is a scenic attraction of more recent construction which is called Inviting the Moon Garden (Yao Yue). In the garden’s centre a pleasant courtyard has been constructed, where there are cassia trees and an al fresco teahouse.
Uditha Dharmawardhane is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Roland Lefevre. He specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.