Confucius Temple (Kong Miao)

The temple was first built in 478 BC as a simple memorial hall and mushroomed into a complex one-fifth the size of Qufu. During the past 2400-odd years, the temple was damaged and restored many times. It covers an area of 21.8 hectares (54 acres) with buildings (nine courtyards one after the other) laid out symmetrically along a one kilometer north-south axis. There are 53 magnificent gateways and 466 halls, pavilions and shrines elaborately roofed with glazed tiles.

The Great Tower of Constellation of Scholars, first built in 1018, and rebuilt in 1191 and got its name, is one of the major structures. Another is the Hall of Great Accomplishment (Da Cheng Dian) with double-tier roofs. Ten massive marble columns support the lower roof at the front, each hewn from a single piece. Magnificent and vivid dragons twist round the columns in bas-relief.

The temple houses an impressive collection of steles, with inscriptions from Han to Qing periods. Some bas-relief carvings from tombs of Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) depict the life, customs and beliefs prevalent in China more than 2000 years ago.

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