The second largest Confucian temple in China (after the Temple of Confucius in Qufu), Beijing's Confucius Temple has been an important site to revere the great sage throughout the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. With over eight centuries of additions and restorative works, the temple is a peaceful, quiet and reverential religious locale.
Built in 1302, the temple, which has four courtyards, gained additions during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Within the temple lies the main building, Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Accomplishment), which houses Confucius' funeral tablet and shrine where you can dedicate offerings. Outside, there are 198 tablets lining the courtyard containing 51,624 names of advanced Confucian scholars from the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. In the Hall of Great Perfection, a wide variety of ancient musical instruments is on display.
In the front courtyard, lies a graveyard of sorts with rows of stelae or stone slabs which have inscriptions recording the 13 Confucian classics and names of other scholars who passed the imperial exams. Other main structures within the complex include Xianshi Gate (Gate of the First Teacher), Dacheng Gate (Gate of Great Accomplishment) and Chongshegci Hall (Worship Hall).
The Confucius Temple is combined with the Imperial Academy next door, a higher education institute which was infamous for the harsh discipline meted out to scholars learning the Confucian classics. The ancient campus boasts red walls, gold-tiled roofs, centuries-old cypress trees, a decorative archway and the Biyong Hall is surrounded by a moat and topped with a shimmering gold knob. Admission to Confucius Temple and the Imperial Academy is CNY30. To visit, alight at Yonghegong metro station and walk 600 metres to Guozijian Street and the two sites.