TEMPLES

Tainan Confucius Temple

Taiwan’s oldest Confucius temple and first official school is serene and dignified. It was built in 1666 by the son of Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga), the Ming loyalist who seized Tainan from the Dutch in the 17th century. The present layout is the result of renovations during Japanese rule in the 20th century.

The temple’s cluster of halls, courtyards and gardens invite leisurely wandering. The most important structure is the stately Dacheng Hall, which is elevated to reflect its status and accessed via the Dacheng Gate. It features a double-eave roof and a nine-tier pagoda with dragons on the roof. The porch out front is where the six-row dance takes place during the Confucius Memorial Ceremony on 28 September. The tightly choreographed moves by dancers in rows originate from the ceremonial dances of the imperial court thousands of years ago. Here it is sometimes performed by elementary students in tunics and gowns.

Close to Dacheng Hall, you will see a pagoda dedicated to the god of literature, and a side hall where Confucian teachings in elegant script are displayed. On the street opposite the temple stands a stone memorial arch crafted by Fujianese masons in the 18th century. Once the temple’s outermost gateway, it now leads to a street of cafes and restaurants.

Red walls typical of Confucius temples run around the grounds. The color, a symbol of nobility, sets off the green of the old trees. Around exam time, parents bring their children here to pay respect and pray for good results. But the dappled gardens are a center of activity at any time of the year. People come to jog, feed the squirrels, practice tai chi, and snap portraits in cosplay costumes.