Tour the temple complex where for many years imperial scholars would pray to the philosopher Confucius before sitting their tough examinations.
The Temple of Confucius was built to honor and worship the legendary ancient Chinese thinker and philosopher. It is also where imperial scholars were locked in individual cells for days on end, sitting their important exams.
The original temple was built in the 11th century, during the Song Dynasty. Since then it has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The latest incarnation dates back to 1984 and was rebuilt using architectural styles from the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Escape from the bustle of the streets by walking through the temple’s huge traditional gate. Like the buildings inside, the entryway features the iconic Chinese upturned eaves which are said to keep out bad spirits.
Then go on a self-guided tour of the main buildings. In the Dacheng Hall, study the huge figure of the great philosopher, as well as carved jade panels depicting scenes from his life. Go to the Hall of Bright Virtue where concerts of Confucian music were once held. In the Qingyun Tower, teachers and Confucian disciples were honored.
Wander through the Jiangnan Examination School. After praying to Confucius for success, scholars would undertake 9 days of examinations here to become imperial bureaucrats. The tests were conducted in tiny cells in which the potential civil servants would sleep at night before waking to a new day of tests. As you walk around the complex, observe the marble sculptures of Confucius and his students that are dotted all over the place.
The temple is particularly beautiful when lit up at night and the best view is from the water. After your exploration of the temple buildings, take a boat ride along the Qinhuai River. From here you can see the 360-feet (110-meter) long screening wall, the largest of its kind in China, covered in huge golden dragons,.
To get to the Temple of Confucius take any of several buses to Fuzimiao Station in southern Nanjing City. The complex is open daily and admission charges apply.