Beijing Confucius Temple

There is a lot to see in this complex that conforms to the ancient architectural structure of combining a temple with a school. On the west-side is the Imperial College, first established in 1287, which was regarded as the highest Confucius Templeeducational institution of Imperial China. The main features of the Imperial College are the colorful and ornate Taixue (Highest Scholarship) Gate. Directly north of the gate stands the square Jiyong (Jade Disc) Hall, which stands in the middle of a circular pond and is the centerpiece of the Imperial College. In a pavilion to the east is the “Forest of Steles”, a pavilion which houses some 189 stone tablets on which are engraved the Thirteen Classics (the works composed by Confucius and his students). The stones, which feature a total of 630000 characters, were created by the orders of Emperor Qianlong. It took some 20 years to complete the engraving and the stones were finally presented to the Imperial College in 1794. To the east of the Imperial College, the Confucius Temple stands as the world’s second largest temple dedicated to the great philosopher, the largest being in Confucius’ home town of Qufu (Shandong Province). This is a tranquil place, dotted with cypress trees and beautiful architecture. Of note here is the stunning, central Dacheng Hall, the principal building where followers paid respect to Confucius. Also of interest is the 700 year old cypress tree, Chujian Bai, which due to an old legend is said to be able to distinguish between good and evil people. If you’ve been bad, hang onto your hat when you get up close to this tree…

Admission: ¥10. Open: 9:00-17:00.

Address: 13-15 Guozijian Jie. Subway: Yonghegong. Tel: +86 (010) 8401 1977.

Directions: Walk south along Yonghegong Dajie from the entrance to the Lama Temple, staying on the west side of the street. Turn right into Guozijian Jie (it’s the one with the traditional arch at the start of the street) and go straight.

Show the taxi driver: 请带我去孔庙,谢谢。地址:国子监街13号。 (Please take me to the Confucius Temple. Thank you.)