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Beijing Temple of Confucius

Beijing Temple of Confucius

The Beijing Temple of Confucius in Guozijian Street, Dongcheng District, is where people paid tribute to Confucius during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. It is the second largest Confucius Temple in China after the Qufu Confucius Temple in Shandong Province. The Temple of Confucius in Beijing is now also the Capital Museum.

The temple was first built in 1302, since when it has been restored and expanded many times. Now, it occupies a total area of 22,000 square meters. Confucius was a great thinker, philosopher and educationalist in ancient China, and his teachings and philosophy deeply influenced Chinese feudal systems and the policies of the Emperors. His values and thoughts were developed into "Confucianism" and introduced to many foreign countries, including Europe and the countries and regions in Asia.

The Confucius Temple in Beijing comprises four courtyards based on a central axis. The main constructions are Xianshi Gate (Gate of the First Teacher), Dacheng Gate (Gate of Great Accomplishment), Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Accomplishment) and Chongshengci (Hall for Worship). Dacheng Hall is the main building of the temple, where the memorial ceremonies for Confucius were often held. Inside the temple one can see 198 stone tablets standing on either side of the front courtyard, containing over 51,624 names of Jinshi (the advanced scholars) of the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. There are also 14 stone-stele pavilions from the Ming and Qing dynasties which hold valuable historical information about ancient China.

 It is worth noting that inside the Beijing Temple of Confucius there is a 600-year old Chu jian bai (Touch Evil Cypress). Its name originated from a legend that, during the Ming Dynasty, a senior official called Yan Song came one day to worship Confucius on behalf of the Emperor. When he walked under the cypress, one of the branches of the tree knocked his hat off. Since Yan Song was a corrupt official, people thought that the tree could distinguish between good and evil. So, it was named "Chu jian bai".

The atmosphere in the Temple of Confucius in Beijing is highly scholastic, making it easy for one to imagine the importance of its role in ancient China.