Longshan Temple is one of the most popular spots to visit in Taipei. It provides insight into Taiwanese spiritual life and offers an ideal place for quiet reflection. Those looking for religious inspiration or simply a splendid example of the detailed architectural decoration typical of Chinese places of worship will find both at this site. The temple was originally founded in 1738 and was dedicated to the Buddhist goddess of Mercy. The modern temple, rebuilt in the early 1900s, now blends elements of both Buddhism and Taoism.
To enter the site, pass through three consecutive, decorative gates into courtyards lined with the old ballast stones from ships which once carried the city’s immigrants. Relax by the waterfall and admire the traditional architecture, the decorative wood and stone carvings and the colourfully painted dragons. Look for wooden sculptures with inscriptions of Chinese poems and lyrics.
Longshan is a multidenominational place of worship, which accounts for the enormous number of gods and deities represented here. Pass through the worship space in the fore hall to the main hall and stand before the temple’s main god, Guanyin, and two bodhisattvas, Manjusri and Samantabhadra. Around the bodhisattvas are 18 attendants called Arhans. In all, this room holds over 165 deities, many of which were brought here for preservation during the island's turbulent years of the early 20th century.
Longshan is an active temple with daily worship. Various festivities are held throughout the year, especially on the 1st and 15th day of each lunar month.
Make sure you leave time to visit the Buddhist stores around the temple. These include an underground market, Chinese medicine shops and antique stores. Located on Guangzhou Street, Longshan Temple is easily accessed by the MRT train service to Longshan station. The temple is open seven days a week from early morning until late evening. Admission is free.