After passing through the Yimen Gate, you come to the grand Dacheng Hall standing in the middle of an expansive stone courtyard. The Dacheng Hall is the main building of the temple, and is home to a spirit tablet of Confucius. As such, it is also the site of the annual ceremony celebrating the venerable sage which takes place every September.
The hall has a double-eave style roof and is surrounded by corridors on all four sides consisting of 42 gigantic columns made out of white stone from Quanzhou in Fujian Province.
The two finely-carved coiled dragon pillars at the main entrance are widely considered to be masterpieces. The carvings are the work of craftsmen from Huian County in Quanzhou, and are done in a powerful and simple style that contrasts strongly with the ornate style used in most temples dedicated to Confucius.
Rising above the roof of the hall is a slim seven-story pagoda in the middle plus two cylinder-like objects on the swallow-tail eaves at both ends.
Apparently, the pagoda symbolizes the suppression of evil, while the two cylinders, which rise from the body of a sea-turtle and also feature a coiled dragon inside, are known as Tong Tian pillars and commemorate how scholars hid books in bamboo containers to prevent them from being burned by the Emperor Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇)of Terracotta Warriors fame.
It’s also said that the Song Dynasty scholar Zhu Xi (朱熹) put a Tong Tian pillar on the roof of the Quanzhou Confucius Temple to show his respect for the great sage and subsequently it became a tradition for all Confucius temples in Southern Fujian to have one. Given the close links between Fujian and Taiwan, it’s probably no big surprise that the Taipei Confucius Temple followed suit.
72 clay owls can also be found on the ridge of the roof, though the reason for the addition of these is unknown.