A Bird View of The Temple of Confucius (on the left) and Guozijian (on the right)
Located on Guozijian (Chengxian) Street in Beijing, China, the neighboring Temple of Confucius and Guozijian were initially built at the beginning of the 14th century (the Yuan Dynasty) in accordance with “the temple on the left (west) and the school on the right (east)” tradition. They reflect the central government’s concern for education only in different ways: the Temple of Confucius was where emperors held ceremonies and offer sacrifice to the founder of education—Confucius while Guozijian was the highest educational institution as well as the national administrative organization of education.
The Temple of Confucius
The Temple of Confucius at Beijing (simplified Chinese: 北京孔庙; traditional Chinese: 北京孔廟; pinyin: Běijīng Kǒngmiào) is the second largest Confucian Temple in China, after the one in Confucius' hometown of Qufu.
The temple was built in 1302, and officials used it to pay their respects to Confucius until 1911. The compound was enlarged twice, during the Ming and Qing dynasties and now occupies some 20,000 square meters. From 1981 until 2005, the Temple of Confucius also housed part of the art collection of the Capital Museum.
Dacheng Gate and the Confucius Statue in front
The complex includes four courtyards aligned along a central axis. From south to north, noteworthy structures includes the Xianshi Gate (先师门), Dacheng Gate (Gate of Great Accomplishment, 大成门), Dacheng Hall (Hall of Great Accomplishment, 大成殿) and Chongshengci (崇圣祠). Inside the temple there are 198 stone tablets positioned on either side of the front courtyard, and they contains more than 51,624 names of jinshis (advanced scholars) of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and 14 stone stele pavilions of the Ming and Qing dynasties that hold various historical documents of ancient China.
Beilin, the tablets that encarved with the names of the Jinshi
The temple also contains stone tablets recording the names of many generations of scholars who passed the Imperial Examination, a reproduction of a Western Zhou dynasty stone drum made during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1735–96), and stone steles containing the Thirteen Confucian Classics, presented by the city of Jintan in Jiangsu Province.
There is set of carved stone drums made between 1736–1795 during the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty held within the Gate of Great Accomplishment, and there is also a large collection of ancient Chinese musical instrument located within the Hall of Great Perfection, along with the central shrine to Confucius.
There are various carvings inside the temple ground. One notable example is a famous carving of "two flying dragons playing a pearl among clouds"; this rare image is seldom to be found in other Confucius temples in China or East Asia, and it is often used in the imperial palaces as dragon is usually solely reserved for emperors.
The temple has many old trees, including one cypress tree known as the "Touch Evil Cypress" (Chu Jian Bai), that has been made famous by folklore through the ages. Its name derives from a Ming dynasty story that when a notoriously corrupt official was passing by, the tree knocked off his hat, and since then people have thought this particular tree could distinguish between good and evil.
the Archway of Guozijian
The Beijing Guozijian (simplified Chinese: 北京国子监; traditional Chinese: 北京國子監; pinyin: Běijīng Guózǐjiān), was the imperial college (Guozijian) during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and the last Guozijian of China. Most of the Beijing Guozijian's buildings were built during the Ming Dynasty and it remains an important heritage site in China. During the Hundred Days' Reform of the Qing Dynasty, the education and administration of education functions of Guozijian was mainly replaced by the Imperial University of Peking (Jingshi Daxuetang), later known as Peking University. The Guozijian was shut down in 1905.
The Guozijian, often translated into English as the Imperial Academy or Imperial College, was the national central institute of learning with the function of administration of education in ancient Chinese dynasties. It was the highest institute of learning in China's traditional educational system. Emperors after Qianlong would have to give a lecture here once after coming to throne to show the central government’s concern for education.
Piyong, where emperors gave lectures
The square building Piyong is set on a small lake in the shape of a cirle, which accords with the Chinese philosophy of an "orbicular sky and rectangular earth". With four doors in the four directions, the building is connected to the yard through bridges.
A drawing of the structure of Piyong
the ceiling of Piyong
the Interior of Piyong
Trip time: around 3 hours.
Ticket price: 30 RMB
Open Time: 8:30—17:00 （throughout the year）