Roof eaves at the Temple of Confucius in Beijing, now the Municipal Museum. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.
Confucian temples are places to worship Confucius, his students, and other Confucian thinkers. But they also served as arenas for Chinese rulers throughout history to express to their subjects the value of culture and education. Many of these temples in China, no longer active for worship, have become bastions of China’s complex culture. Qufu Temple, in Shandong Province, is the oldest and most iconic.
The teachings of Confucius have shaped Chinese thought and values throughout history; Confucian temples in China are primarily places to worship the philosopher and his disciples. But many Confucian temples today have become valuable repositories of Chinese culture in the form of museums and educational facilities. The Qufu 曲阜 Confucian temple in Shandong Province, for instance, is now the most popular tourist destination in China after the Forbidden City.