Qufu can be reached by a half hour bus ride from Yanzhou, which is a stop in Shandong Province halfway on the Beijing Shanghai Railway.
The city has a long history. It is said to be the ruin of the capital of Shan Hao (one if the five legendary rulers before recorded history in China); five kilometers northeast of the city is Shan Hao's tomb, the only pyramid in China built with square stones.
Qufu was the hometown of Confucius (551-479 B.C.), the celebrated thinker, philosopher and educator of the Spring and Autumn Period. For twenty-five centuries, he has exerted profound influence on Chinese society with his ideas right up to the present century. As the para-religious cult which came to embrace his thinking grew, shrines and temples were erected to his memory in Qufu. Among more than three hundred historical sites here, the most famous are Temple of Confucius (Kongmiao), Confucius Mansion (Kongfu), and Forest of Confucius (Konglin).
Temple of Confucius
One year after Confucius' death (478 B.C.), Duke Ai of the State of Lu had and Confucius's former residence rebuilt into a temple to worship and offer sacrifice to Confucius. As the temple was repeatedly renovated and enlarged by emperors from the Western Han Dynasty onwards, it gradually became a huge group of ancient buildings.
In the front part of the temple, which consists of nine courtyards, visitors pass through a number of gates, the Pavilion of the Constellation Scholars (Kuiwenge), and Thirteen pavilions of Imperial Steles (Shisanyuebeiting). From Great Achievement Gate (Dachengmen), visitors can continue the tour along one of three routes. In the middle route, they can see Terrace of Apricot Tree (Xingtan), Great Achievement Hall (Dachengdian), Confucius' Bedroom (Qindian), and Hall of Memories of the Sage (Shengjidian). To the east of these halls is the former residence of Confucius, where tourists can visit Hall of Rites and Poetry (Shilitang), Wall of Lu (Lubi), Confucius' Well (Guzhaijing), Worship Ancestors Temple (Chongshengsi), and the Confucius Family Temple (Jiamiao). Along the west route are Hall of Heralding the Sage (Qishengwangdian), used for worshipping and offering sacrifice to Confucius' parents, and Hall of Private Apartments (Qishengwangqindian).
The walled temple, with towers at its corners, is composed of many buildings with carved beams and painted eaves, extending for more than one kilometer from south to north. Inside the wall, ancient cypresses and pines provide the buildings with shade. The temple houses more than two thousand stone tablets with inscriptions in various styles of calligraphy. The towering Great Accomplishment Hall, the major structure of the temple, is 54 meters long, 34 meters wide and 32 meters high. Its roof is supported by twenty-eight stone columns standing on pedestals shaped like lotus flowers. The front ten columns standing on pedestals shaped like lotus flowers. The front ten columns are carved with dragons cavorting in a rolling sea with clouds floating above. A statue of Confucius stands inside the hall.
Right next to the Temple of Confucius, the mansion was the residence of Confucius' descendants. As generations of emperors advocated the worship of Confucius, his descendants were given the hereditary title of "Lord of Learning." Therefore, the mansion is also called "the Mansion of Lords of Learning."
Covering a vast area and containing a total of 463 rooms of buildings, this architectural group represents the largest landlord manor in Chinese history. The richly decorated mansion served a triple function: it was a feudal government office, a family temple, and a residence.
Forest of Confucius
Located to the north of the town of Qufu County and occupying two hundred hectares, the forest serves as the cemetery of Confucius and his descendants. The ancient trees in the cemetery are said to have been brought here by Confucius' disciples from their hometowns after his death. There are more than twenty thousand trees inside the cemetery, which shade the tombs and tombstones. There are many historical sites in the forest commemorating the visits of emperors of various dynasties who came to pay tribute to Confucius and his descendants.
There are many historical sites in Qufu as well, including Duke of Zhou Temple (Zhougongmiao), Mother of Mencius Woods (Mengmulin), Duke of the State of Liang Woods (Lianggonglin), and the ruins of the old city of the Ducal State of Lu. All are now open to visitors after undergoing renovation.
Qufu has fairly complete tourist facilities, and an increasing number of visitors come here every year.
For more information please visit the following sites:
Qu Fu Photo Gallery by Bernard Tse at pbase.com
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