Located on Guozijian Street inside Anding Gate,the Temple of Confuciusin Beijing isthe placewhere people paid homage to Confucius during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
The Temple of Confucius was initially built in 1302 and additions were made during the Ming and Qing dynasties. It has a total area of 22,000 square meters (5.4 acres). It is the second largest temple constructed for Confucius, the greatest thinker and educationalist in ancient China, ranking only behind the Temple of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province.
This temple consists of four courtyards. The main structures include Xianshi Gate (Gate of the First Teacher), Dacheng Gate (Gate of Great Accomplishment), Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Accomplishment) and Chongshengci (Worship Hall). Dacheng Hall is the main building in the temple, where the memorial ceremony for Confucius was often held. Inside the temple one can see that 198 stone tablets are positioned on either side of the front courtyard, containing 51,624 names of Jinshi (the advanced scholars) of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Also 14 stone stele pavilions of the Ming and Qing dynasties hold the precious historical information of ancient China.
Guozijian (Imperial academy) is a kind of university in ancient China, and the history can be traced back to the Sui Dynasty (581–618). In ancient times, scholars who could do studies in imperial academy were regarded as sons of fortune. Up to now, Beijing Imperial Academy is the last one, going through Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is next to Beijing Confucian Temple and Yonghe Lama Temple. Facing south, the imperial academy features symmetrical architectural complex. On the central axis of the architectural complex, situate Jixian Gate, Taixue Gate, Memorial Archway, Biyong Hall, Yilun Hall and Jingyi Pavilion. All of them are architectural essence of Chinese traditional architectures, showing the unique architectural style of ancient China.
The memorial archway in Beijing Imperial Academy is the only memorial archway built for education in China. The banners of the both sides are inscribed by emperor, symbolizing that the country pays a lot of attention on education. Piyong Hall is the main architecture in the imperial academy. It was built in 1784, and is the place for emperors in the Qing Dynasty giving lectures. Located in the very central of the imperial academy, Piyong Hall has large doors in all directions, multiple eaves, pyramidal roof, and quadrate shape. Piyong Hall is surrounded by gallery, and four delicate bridges stretching over the pool lead visitors to the hall. Yilun Hall is located to the north of Piyong Hall. In the Yuan Dynasty, it has another name Chongwen Pavilion, and got the name of Yilun Hall after the reconstruction between 1403 and 1424 in the Ming Dynasty. Before Piyong Hall was built, it was the hall for emperors giving lectures and after that, it was used as a store house for books.
Gouzijian Museum is also known as the Imperial College. The college was built in 1306, several years after the construction of Confucius Temple. The college was constructed right next to the temple in accordance with Chinese tradition where a temple is always to the left of a school.
The museum is well laid out with exhibition halls and lecture halls. I did not find it as informative as the exhibition halls of Confucius Temple. The Imperial College and Confucius Temple are both accessed from the same entrance and covered by the same entrance fee.
When visiting Confucius Temple, you should schedule enough time in your day and read all that is presenting in the exhibition halls. Located on either side of the main courtyard, just before Da Cheng Hall, it offers an amazing account of the life of Confucius and some insight into that era.
Tel: 86 10 64012118
Contact: Wu Chun
Add: 13-15 Guozijian Jie, Dongcheng District, Beijing