Temples in Taipei
Temple (211 Kuangchou Street)
Manka, now known as the Wanhua district, is the first part of
Taipei to be developed. It is also the site of the city's oldest
temple, Lungshan Temple, which serves as a center of social activity
as well as worship for local residents.
interesting legend relates the temple's origin. It is said that
a man once left a Kuanyin (Goddess of Mercy) amulet hanging on a tree,
and when night fell the amulet began giving off a brilliant
light. The people of the neighborhood soon discovered that the
charm had the power to grant wishes, and they naturally wanted to
build a temple for the goddess. Construction on the site where
the charm was found began in 1738, and the temple was completed two
years later. Numerous renovations have taken place during the
more than 250 years since then. The temple is laid out in the
shape of a square within a square.
unevenly cut stones that pave the temple's courtyard have their own
history. In the old days, the Taiwan Straits were known as the
"Blackwater Channel" because of their rough and perilous
nature. To help stabilize their ships, immigrants from Fukien
province used slabs of stone as ballast; it is these same stone slabs
that now pave parts of the courtyard in front of Lungshan Temple.
Temple (218 Kueiyang Street, Sec. 2)
Built in 1854, this temples is home to the god King Chingshan.
According to legend, fishermen from Huian in mainland China brought
the god's image to Taiwan; when they carried it past Old Street
(today's Hsiyuan Road) they suddenly found themselves brought to a
halt; the god refused to move any further. Throwing the oracle
blocks to find out what the matter was, the god's devotees
discovered that he wanted to stay there - and that is where they built
the temple. An epidemic was raging at the time, but prayers to
King Chingshan were sure to bring a recovery; thus the god's grateful
devotees increased, and they contributed money to build a new temple -
the one that exists today.
celebration marking the birthday of King Chingshan is held on the 22nd
day of the 10th lunar month. On that day all of the other
temples in the area also celebrate the occasion, helping make it one
of the most interesting festivals in Manka.
Temple (81 Kangting Rd)
This temple, also known as the Divine Progenitors Temple, was
constructed in 1787 when seven images of Divine Progenitors were
brought over by immigrants from Anhsi. The most powerful of
these was believed to be the Penglai Divine Progenitor, also called
the "Nose-Dropping Divine Progenitor." Legend has it
that when a disaster was about to happen the nose of this image
would fall off as a warning to his devotees, and would resume its
position only after the calamity was over.
Temple's long history is reflected in its decoration. At the
entrance of the temple, there is a pair of large dragon pillars in
front of the central doors of the front court; the brick carvings on
both sides of the outer wall date back to the 18th century and early
19th century, making them the oldest pieces of art in the
temple. There are also inscriptions of Ching dynasty reign
periods on the beams, stone walls, and dragon pillars.
Chingshui Temple has been called the most characteristic example of
mid-Ching temple architecture.
City God Temple (61 Tihua
In 1853, a
fierce brawl erupted among immigrants from different areas of Fukien
province in mainland China, and the immigrants from Tungan county
were defeated. Snatching the gilded image of the Hsiahai City
God from the flame of battle, they fled to Tataocheng; there in
1959, they built the Hsiahai City God Temple, which has since become
the center of worship in this district.
temple is not particularly large, but it is unusually packed with
worshippers; it has never been expanded, and has retained its
original appearance for more than 100 years. Inside, numerous
images of deities are arrayed on steps. The central niche is
occupied by the City God, a local deity who presides over and
protects the people in his particular area; he maintains accounts of
the good and evil done by mortals, and keeps track of the movements
of souls and demons in the underworld. This capacity inclines
believers toward good thoughts, and fear of punishment keeps them
from doing evil.
birthday of the Hsiahai City God is celebrated on the 13th day of
the fifth lunar month. On this day, devotees organize all
kinds of processions and ceremonies to greet visiting deities and to
express their gratitude to the City God for his diving help.
This is the biggest and most boisterous temple celebration in
Street is the most historic and best preserved of Taipei's old
streets. The buildings along this street feature traditional
southern Fukien (Amoy), Western, modernist, and baroque
arthictecture. Found here are Taiwan's largest wholesale
and retail markets for fabrics, Chinese medicines, and drygoods.
The best time for shopping here is in the afternoon.
Temple (61 Hami Street)
Located at the confluence of the Tamsui and Keelung Rivers,
Talungtung developed very early. The center of worship here is
Paoan Temple, built in 1805. This is a large temple, and its
construction was difficult; in addition, all of the wood and stone
materials -- and even the artisans -- had to be brought over from
mainland China. For these reasons, the temple required a full
quarter-century to complete.
temple features the usual dragon pillars, and also a pair of stone
lions that are not so usual. Normally, of the two lions (one
male, one female) that guard a temple, the male has an open mouth
and the female a closed mouth; there however, both have open
mouths. It is said that they are not lions at all but a
"humane beast" and a "law beast," stationed
there as an appeal to respect the law and carry out good government.
the middle of the bell tower, the Goddess of Birth, Chusheng
Niang-niang, is enshrined. Flanking her are 12 female aids,
each charged with assisting childbirths during a particular
month. In the old agricultural society it was considered lucky
to have many children and grandchildren, so women from far and near
would come to worship her and appeal for sons - especially at the
time of her birthday. They still do.
Temple (275 Talung Street)
The Taipei Confucian Temple is right across Talung Street. This
temple honors one of the greatest philosophers and teachers of all
time, Confucius, as well as other philosophers.
valued simplicity, and simplicity is the dominant characteristic of
this temple. Here you see none of the densely rich decor of
many other temples; even the usual stone lions are missing from the
entrance. The columns, doors, and windows here are different
also, in that they bear no inscriptions. This indicates, it is
said, that nobody dares flaunt his literary prowess before the
are there any images in this temple. In ancient times,
Confucian temples contained images of the Sage, but different
craftsmen carved them in different likenesses. This lack of
uniformity upset Emperor Tai Tsu (AD 1368-1398) of the Ming Dynasty,
who decree that all new Confucian temples would from that point on
only contain memorial tables and no images. Later on, during
Emperor Shih Tsung's reign (1522-1586), it was decreed that all
existing images of Confucius be replaced with memorial
tablets. This rule is still followed today.
birthday of Confucius is celebrated on the 28th of September in
Taiwan; this is also observed as a national holiday in the name of
Teacher's Day. Solemn ceremonies and ritual dances (performed
by students) are held in the temple at dawn on this date.
After the ceremonies, many people rush to pluck "wisdom
hairs" from the sacrificial ox.
Temple (109 Minchuan E. Rd., Sec. 2)
This very busy temple is devoted to Kuan Kung, a famous deified
general who lived (AD 162-219) during the Three Kingdoms
period. A man who valued loyalty and righteousness above all
things, Kuan Kung is worshipped as the God of War; since he was
adept at managing finances, he is also worshipped as he patron saint
is a young temple, built in 1967, with a simple and dignified
appearance. Many believers feel that this is a very
efficacious temple, and it is frequently thronged with people
praying for help and seeking divine guidance by consulting oracle
Even the pedestrian underpass outside the temple is filled with
fortune tellers and vendors who take commercial advantage of the
Temple (115 Wanshou Rd.)
This temple is known to foreigners as "the Temple of a
Thousand Steps." This is no exaggeration -- there are
actually around 1,200 stone steps up to the temple -- and there is a
saying, "live an extra 20 seconds for each step you
climb." If this is true, you can add more than six hours
to your life by climbing all the steps.
Temple sites on Monkey Mountain and, in addition to the steps, is
accessible by a paved road. But the stone steps are worth a
trip in themselves; they are flanked by rows of stone posts topped
by stone lanterns that were donated by devotees during the period of
Japanese occupation (1895-1945). After each hundred steps
there is a landing where climbers can rest their weary feet.
Temple (360 Chihhsing Rd.)
Founded in 1661, this is the oldest Matsu (Goddess of the Sea)
temple in northern Taiwan; its original name was "Lingshan (Mr.
Ling) Temple," since it is located atop Mt. Ling.
According to legend, in 1895 three old banyan trees standing at the
temple's entrance died suddenly during the same night; local
residents believed that this might have been a message from Matsu
warning of impending disaster.
Temple (761 Patch Rd., Sec. 4)
This temple, built in the mid-18th century, is the cradle of
development of the Sungshan district. The story goes that a
monk once roamed this area, carrying a gilded image of Matsu,
Goddess of the Sea, as he begged for alms. One day a Hsikou -
the old name for this district - the monk came upon a number of
people, all Matsu believers from his old home. Together they
planned construction of a temple to honor the goddess, and after
raising funds for more than 10 years they were able to realize their
dream. Construction started in 1753 and was completed in 1757.
"Matsu Crossing the Censer" celebration is held at this
temple during the fourth lunar month each year. This is a good
time to observe a traditional temple celebration.
Temple (23 Chunghsiao E. Rd., Sec. 1)
The Japanese introduced a number of schools of Buddhism during
their 50-year occupation of Taiwan, but due to the language barrier
these efforts were not particularly successful. This temple
was established by the Pure Land School in 1935 (it was originally
names the "Pure Land Mission"), and today is the largest
of Taipei's seven most prominent Buddhist temples.