More by accident than design, I was lucky enough to finish off my travels this year with a weekend trip to Qufu, the hometown of Confucius and the site of the oldest and largest temple dedicated to the sage. The early winter weather was absolutely wonderful with its clear blue skies and sunshine, and the lack of tourists gave me the opportunity to explore the complex and other sites in the area virtually undisturbed.
The temple dates back to around 477 BC when the Duke Ai of Lu converted the former residence of Confucius to a memorial of the sage a couple of years after his death. Subsequently, the complex has reportedly undergone 15 major renovations and multiple repairs, most recently in the aftermath of the destruction that occurred during the Cultural Revolution.
The main highlight of the temple is the Dacheng Hall, usually translated as the Hall of Great Achievement or Hall of Great Perfection. This is at the center of the complex, and the site where all the imperial sacrifices to Confucius were carried out. The structure is just under 32 meters tall. A local law decrees that no other building within the city limits of Qufu can match its height.
For all the grandeur of the temple’s architecture, my favorite part of the visit was strolling around the grounds away from the main buildings. It was a real privilege to soak in the quiet and peaceful atmosphere that pervaded the complex.
Qufu is only a couple of hours away from Beijing by High Speed Train. In addition to the Temple of Confucius, there are plenty of other interesting sites to see. Even if you’re not a Confucius nerd like me, it’s a great place for a weekend break.