This small circular temple is one of the most recognizable and frequently photographed structures in Beijing. The Temple of Heaven is by no means tiny, but significantly smaller than one would assume from looking at pictures, often shot from close distance, lens towards the heavens. The structure is impressive -- colors appear more vibrant after the Temple underwent restoration before the Olympics.
Allow about two hours for a visit, and spend some time walking through the adjacent common areas and gardens. Locals gather not for tourists, but to practice dancing and singing, and to play Mahjong and Jianzi, a Chinese version of Hacky Sack. The Temple of Heaven is located across the street from the Pearl Market -- plan to arrive at the Temple in the late morning, and then visit the market after lunch. The Temple of Heaven and Hongqiao Pearl Market are both located near the Tian Tan Dong Men (Line 5) metro stop.