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Temples in Taipei
Wanhua (Manka)



Other Temples

Wanhua (Manka)

Lungshan 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.

An 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.

The 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.

Chingshan 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.

The 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.

Chingshui 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.

Chingshui 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.


Hsiahai City God Temple (61 Tihua Street., Sec. 1)
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.

This 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.

The 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 Taipei.

*Tihua 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.


Paoan 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.

This 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.

In 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.

Confucian 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.

Confucius 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 Master.

Nor 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.

The 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.

Other Attractions

Hsingtien 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 of businessmen.

This 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 blocks.  Even the pedestrian underpass outside the temple is filled with fortune tellers and vendors who take commercial advantage of the temple's popularity.

Chihnan 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.

Chihnan 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.

Kuantu 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.

Tzuyu 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.

A "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.

Shantao 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.

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