Since I was so close to it, I couldn’t resist a quick visit to the Temple of Confucius on Guozijian Street even though I’ve been there a couple of times before.
This was where emperors from the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties would come to pay their respects to the sage by making sacrifices – a practice which would no doubt have horrified Confucius if he were alive.
The temple also houses 198 stone tablets featuring the names of the 51,624 candidates who passed the highest Jinshi level of the imperial civil service examinations during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Next to it is the Beijing Imperial Academy, also known as the Imperial College, which was the highest seat of learning in China and responsible for the administration of the examination system throughout the country.
Both the Temple of Confucius and the Beijing Imperial Academy are absolutely stunning and provide a fascinating glimpse of how successive dynasties promoted the teachings of Confucius and, by extension, utilized them as a totem of their own legitimacy.