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Temple of Confucius in Qufu

2012/4/24 9:52:40   source:china.org.cn

  Within two years after the death of Confucius, his former house in Qufu was already consecrated as a temple by the Prince of Lu. In 205 B.C., Emperor Gao of the Han Dynasty was the first emperor to offer sacrifices to the memory of Confucius in Qufu. He set an example for many emperors and high officials to follow. Later, emperors would visit Qufu after their enthronement or on important occasions such as after a successful war. In total, 12 different emperors paid 20 personal visits to Qufu to worship Confucius. About 100 others sent their deputies for 196 official visits. The original three-room house of Confucius was removed from the temple complex during a rebuilding undertaken in A.D. 611. In 1012 and in 1094, during the Song Dynasty, the temple was extended into a design with three sections and four courtyards, around which eventually more than 400 rooms were arranged. Fire and vandalism destroyed the temple in 1214, during the Jin Dynasty. It was restored to its former extent by 1302 during the Yuan Dynasty. In 1331, the temple was framed in an enclosure wall modeled after the Imperial Palace. The temple was again devastated by fire in 1499 but was then restored to its present scale. Further additions to the buildings and the decorations were made. In total, the Temple of Confucius has undergone 15 major renovations, 31 large repairs, and numerous small building measures.

  The temple complex is the second largest historical building complex in China (after the Forbidden City). It covers an area of 16,000 square meters and has a total of 460 rooms. Because the last major redesign following the fire in 1499 took place shortly after the building of the Forbidden City in the Ming Dynasty, the architecture of the Temple of Confucius resembles that of the Forbidden City in many ways. The main part of the temple consists of 9 courtyards arranged on a central axis, which is oriented in the north-south direction and is 1.3 kilometers in length. The first three courtyards have small gates and are planted with tall pine trees. The first (southernmost) gate is named "Lingxing Gate" after a star in the Great Bear constellation. The name suggests that Confucius is a star from heaven. The buildings in the remaining courtyards form the heart of the complex. They are impressive structures with yellow roof tiles (otherwise reserved for the emperor) and walls painted red and surrounded by pine trees. The main buildings are the Stela Pavilions (e.g., Jin and Yuan Dynasties, 1115–1368), the Kuiwen Hall (built in 1018, restored in 1504 during the Ming Dynasty and in 1985), the Xing Tan Pavilion (Apricot Platform), the De Mu Tian Di Arch, the Dacheng Hall (built in the Qing Dynasty), and the Hall of Confucius' Wife.

  The Dacheng Hall (Great Perfection Hall) is the architectural center of the present-day complex. It is supported by 28 richly decorated pillars carved in one piece out of local rock. The 10 columns on the front side of the hall are decorated with coiled dragons. It is said that these columns were covered during visits by the emperor to avoid arousing his envy. Dacheng Hall served as the principal place for offering sacrifices to the memory of Confucius. In the center of the courtyard in front of Dacheng Hall stands the "Apricot Platform," which commemorates Confucius teaching his students under an apricot tree. Each year at Qufu and at many other Confucian temples, a ceremony is held on Sept. 28 to commemorate Confucius' birthday.

  Admission:

  High season: 90 yuan

  Low season: 80 yuan

  Coupon ticket for Temple of Confucius, Cemetery of Confucius and Kong Family Mansion:

  High season: 150 yuan

  Low season: 130 yuan

  How to get there: Take Bus 1

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