Qufu, China

For those interested in Chinese history and, in particular, the incalculably influential Chinese Sage Confucius (551–479 BC), a visit to Qufu, located roughly halfway between Beijing and Shanghai is a must, being the birthplace of the great man and his clan of origin, the San Kong.

Qufu ity Gate, Qufu, China

The main visitor attraction is the Confucius Temple, the second largest Imperial building complex in all China, after the Forbidden City. The vast commemorative structure has been built around the sage's original three-room house, which incredibly to this day retains his possessions, including books, musical instruments and clothes. 

Within the larger complex, completed in 1499 AD, are over a thousand steles, most notably the Cheng Hua Stele, and nine courtyards. The Shengji Temple contains 120 precious Tang Dynasty paintings, which describe scenes from the Sage’s life. The Dacheng Hall, at the heart of the structure contains a statue of Confucius and is fronted by ten superbly carved dragon pillars, reflecting extraordinary skill.

Dacheng Hall, Qufu, China

The Apricot Altar marks the site where the great man taught his students, named after the fruiting tree which originally stood here, while the Li Wall is the site at which the Master’s writings were hidden during the book burning frenzy of Qin Sji Huang. 

Adjacent to the Confucius Temple is the Confucius Mansion, residence of the Kong Clan, very much the beneficiaries of Confucius’s enormous fame and resultant later Imperial patronage, and one of the most significant private dwellings in all Imperial China, with 480 Halls. Among the many features are the Ceremonial Gate, Neizhai Gate and the Great Hall. 

Just beyond the town, the Confucius Forest is the cemetery where the Sage’s tomb is sited, along with his son and grandson. The surrounding Pine forest is full of pavilions, temples and the graves of over one hundred thousand of his descendant relations. 

Students of Chinese thought may also wish to visit the nearby Mencius Temple in Zoucheng, to the south of Qufu, dedicated to the most prominent of Confucian scholars, Mencius (372 – 289 BC), also known as the Second Sage.

Mencius Shrine, Qufu, China

North of Qufu, lies the sacred mountain and UNESCO World Heritage site of Tai Shan, a pilgrimage site for over three thousand years, climbed by virtually every major figure in Chinese history.

Tai Shan Mountain, near Qufu, China

The strenuous climb is in legend said to endow the visitor with a lifespan of one hundred years, though it is too soon to tell if the modern cable car alternative bestows the same reward. 

 

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