The temple, cemetery and family mansion of Confucius, the great philosopher, politician and educator of the 6th–5th centuries B.C., are located at Qufu, in Shandong Province. Built to commemorate him in 478 B.C., the temple has been destroyed and reconstructed over the centuries; today it comprises more than 100 buildings. The cemetery contains Confucius' tomb and the remains of more than 100,000 of his descendants. The small house of the Kong family developed into a gigantic aristocratic residence, of which 152 buildings remain. The Qufu complex of monuments has retained its outstanding artistic and historic character due to the devotion of successive Chinese emperors over more than 2,000 years.
Source: UNESCO TV / © NHK Nippon Hoso Kyokai
Cemetery of Confucius
The Cemetery of Confucius (Chinese: 孔林 pinyin: Kǒng lín lit. 'Kong Forest [of gravestones]') is a cemetery of the Kong clan (the descendants of Confucius) in Confucius' hometown Qufu in Shandong province. Confucius himself and some of his disciples are buried there, as well as many thousands of his descendants.
Since 1994, the Cemetery of Confucius has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Temple and Cemetery of Confucius and the Kong Family Mansion in Qufu".  The two other components of the site are the Temple of Confucius dedicated to the memory of the philosopher and the Kong Family Mansion, where his descendants lived. The three sites are collectively known in Qufu as San Kong ( 三孔 ), i.e. "The Three Confucian [sites]".
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What did I think of this WHS? It's very interesting if you are into the history of Confucius and maybe Mencius (just 30 minute by taxi away). Even the birthplace of the Yellow Emperor and the tomb of his son are in current QuFu.
I went to Qufu from Xuzhou unline most people arriving from Jinan. This is the same time by train. I took the taxi to the cemetary first and walked there for about 90 minutes in the morning. nice fresh air, quiet. Beautiful area with autumn leaves. (i was there in early November 2015). Then I took an unofficial taxi to the temple and mansion. You can walk it, but it was drizzling.
The temple and mansion are nice to see but not for a first timer in China.
For die hards, the Mencius temple is smaller and less interesting. I did go, just to go and see it. But I would not recommend to most visitors.
Qufu is however a great place if you are traveling the Beijing-Shanghai railway. A nice stop here for a night is worth it.
Photos please see the link below.
Temple, Mansion and Cemetery of Confucius / San Kong
Chinese name: 孔庙孔府孔林/三孔 (Kongmiao, Kongfu, Konglin/ San Kong)
Location: Temple of Confucius is located on Shendao Road Mansion of Confucius is on the east side of Temple of Confucius Cemetery of Confucius is on Lindao Road, Qufu city, Shandong province.
Admission fee: 150yuan for San Kong.
Opening time: Temple of Confucius opens from 08:00-17:30 Mansion of Confucius opens from 08:00-17:30 Cemetery of Confucius opens from 08:00-18:00.
How to get there:
- By bus No. 1 and get off at the stop of Guloumen (鼓楼门, Drum-tower Gate)
- By bus No.2, 3, 5, 6 and get off at the stop of Nanmen (南门, South Gate).
Best time to visit: All year round, but habitually people prefer to visit San Kong from March to November, commonly known as the peak season of Qufu.
Introduction to San Kong
San Kong in Qufu refers to Temple of Confucius, Mansion of Confucius, and Cemetery of Confucius. They are symbolic of Chinese people holding Confucianism in esteem and commemorating Confucius, renowned for rich culture, long history, magnificent scale, prodigious relics and scientific and artistic value. Thanks to its phenomenal role in Chinese history and oriental culture, San Kong was designated as World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO in December, 1994. Moreover, this one of the three Holy City around the world was listed as China’s first class 5A scenic spots in the year of 2007.
Mansion of Confucius (孔府)
Located in the east side of Temple of Confucius, Mansion of Confucius was originally known as mansion of Yanshenggong. It used to be the house of the descents of Confucius for a long time. When Confucius passed away, his posterity settled down near the temple to attend to the remains of Confucius. By the end of North Song dynasty (960-1127), the mansions soared to more than ten, covering an area of 7.4 hectares. Now there are more than 480 rooms, buildings and halls. The former part is government office and the latter part is the residence.
At the entrance of the mansion guard two stone lions on both sides. Looking up, you will catch a sight of a vertical board inscribed with "圣府", while on the pillars hang a couple said to be written by Ji Yun, a brilliant scholar in Qing Dynasty, from which visitors can learn the dominance of Mansion of Confucius in feudal society.
Second Entrance (二门)
Walking through a narrow but long courtyard leads to the second entrance, commonly known as "Er Men". It was built in the Ming Dynasty, with a vertical board inscribed with "圣人之门" by Li Dongyang, a remarkable poet of Ming Dynasty.
Chongguang Gate (重光门)
After stepping the second entrance, you will catch a sight of a small, lovely, and particular screen door built in the Ming Dynasty. This wood gate was named after the horizontal board inscribed with "恩赐重光" distributed by Jiajing Emperor (1507-1567) of Ming Dynasty.
Hall of Mansion of Confucius (孔府大堂)
Passing through Chongguang Gate, you will find the spacious hall behind the stylobate. In the past, it was where Yanshenggong received other officials, tried a case and ceremonies were held. In the midst of the hall exists an armchair, covered with a tiger skin cushion, in front of which is a red-painted desk.
Second Hall (二堂)
Also called back hall, it was where Yanshenggong received highly-ranked officials, or commissioned by the Emperor, examined the students majoring in music. Two boards inscribed "钦承圣绪" and "诗书礼乐" respectively are in sight, too.
Third Hall (三堂)
Behind the second hall there is a courtyard where two towering junipers stand side by side, while six grotesque Chinese Taihu rocks are in six stone carvings pots. The north room of the courtyard is the third hall, in which Yanshenggong received highly-ranked officials, and his domestic affairs were dealt with.
Gate of Inner Chamber (内宅门)
Two sorts of servants were employed so as to keep in touch with the outside world one was called Chaipan, the other Neichuanshi. Tens of them were on duty by turns and passed on a message from time to time. The west side of the gate is a special trough via which water carried by laborers could flow into the inner chamber from the outside.
Qianshang Hall (前上房)
Qianshang halls refer to seven rooms of the Mansion of Confucius, where the host received his relatives and bosom friends, and weddings and funerals took place. In the courtyard you are greeted by a luxuriant Aquilaria Sinensis. When it comes to the late spring and early summer, the white flowers scents the air. Four stone drums, laying on the large platform in front of the hall, used to be base of a stage on which theatrical troupe performed for the mansion. In the spacious Qianshang hall hangs a horizontal board inscribed with "宏开慈宇", and a Chinese character "寿" (literally meaning longevity) written by Empress Dowager Cixi (1861-1908).
Qiantang Building (前堂楼)
Passing through a small door brings you to the courtyard of Qiantang building. In the yard, you are amazed and delight to see the charming scenery of towering and elegant pine trees, and a school of fish swimming in the pool. Qiantang building is a two-storey building with seven rooms, furniture remaining its original appearance. In the middle is a bronze-made stove. In the east room, phoenix coronet, ginseng, coral, ivory carvings are in sight.
Houtang Building (后堂楼)
It was the residence of Kong Decheng, the 77 th generation of Confucius. Here, his wedding supplies, calligraphies, painting and presents from his friends are displayed.
Back Garden (后花园)
Situated in the backyard of the residence, it is also called Tieshan Garden. However, there are no iron mountains but some iron ores resembling hills in the northwestern corner. The iron ores were transferred by Kong Qingrong in the Jiaqing Period (1796-1820) of Qing Dynasty, and from then on he called himself the master of Tieshan garden. The garden was built in the year of 1503 and renovated three times on a large scale.
Temple of Confucius (孔庙)
This temple is for the Confucius, the great thinker, statesman, and educationist of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC). Located in the middle of Qufu city, it is an oriental architectural complex, magnificent and imposing. One year after Confucius passed away, his disciples converted his dwellings into the temple, and later, it was expanded by successive dynasties. Going through no less than hundreds of repair, the temple had achieved the immense scale in the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Covering an area of 33 acres, architecture here are arranged symmetrically, five halls, one pavilion, one altar, two rooms at the sides of the principal rooms, two main rooms and seventeen stele pavilions included. Almost all ancient architects commended this temple due to its large scale, imposing appearance, and integrity despite the elapse of time. It is not only the masterpiece of millions of laborers’ blood, toil, tears and sweat, but also the fruit of their wisdom.
Jinsheng Yuzhen Archway (金声玉振坊)
Mencius once highly praised Confucius by these two words "金声" and "玉振" , literally meaning golden sound and jade vibration, a metaphor said of high moral behavior of Confucius. Therefore, people named the stone archway in front of the Temple of Confucius "金声玉振" . Behind it spans a stone arch bridge, behind which is erected a tablet in the east and west respectively. In the feudal society, emperors had to get off the man-drawn carriage when offering sacrifice to Confucius, to say nothing of the common people.
Lingxing Gate (棂星门)
In the ancient times, people had to offer sacrifice to lingxing before others, so naming the gate after lingxing connotes the status of Confucius as the heaven. A board inscribed with "棂星门" written by Emperor Qianlong is in sight. Inside the gate, there are two archways made of white marbles. As a matter of fact, when Chinese touches upon the profound influence on China, they prefer to use the eight Chinese characters, namely, "德侔天地, 道冠古今", referring to his contributions are as large as the universe and his proposals are always the best. Hence, stepping into the temple, you can find a wood memorial archway, inscribed those characters.
Shengshi Gate (圣时门)
Built in the year of 1415, the gate enjoys five arches now with emerald tiles and ruby outer walls. Looking inside from the arch, you cannot help feeling it like an enigma. But after passing through the gate, you will be delighted to see a spacious grass-studded courtyard, cypresses guarding here and there. In addition, an exquisite bridge called Bishui Bridge.
Daohong Gate (弘道门)
Lying in the north of the Bishui Bridge is Hongdao Gate, under which are two tablets, one recording the transition of Qufu city, the other of high calligraphic value.
Dazhong Gate (大中门)
Originally known as Zhonghe Gate, the gate was constructed in the Qing Dynasty. Its spacious courtyard, green and luxuriant trees, and dancing egrets create deep and serene scenery. Beside the gate are two buildings, for the purpose of making it as solemn as the imperial palace.
Kuiwen Pavilion (奎文阁)
The towering pavilion is reputed for its well-stocked books and unique architecture. Built in the year of 1018, it was first named Cangshu Building and was changed into Kuiwen Pavilion in 1191. 23.35 metres tall, 30.1 metres wide, 17.62 metres deep, the pavilion is so impregnable that heavy rain or sever earthquake cannot destroy it. No wonder it is the remarkable wood architecture in China. In front of the pavilion are two pavilions of four imperial tablets of Ming Dynasty. Each tablet is over six metres tall and two metres wide, and most of them express the reverence for Confucius.
Thirteen Stele Pavilions (十三碑亭)
Thirteen stele pavilions are erected in order to preserve the tablets of emperors, with eight in the south and five in the north. There are fifty-five tablets, ranging from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to the Republic of China (1912-1949). Most of the tablets document the renovation history of the temple, and the reverence for Confucius by the emperor.
Dacheng Gate (大成门)
In the north of the thirteen stele pavilions is Dacheng Gate. With five gates side by side, the temple is divided into three parts, the east one is Chengsheng Gate, having a concentration of ancestors of Confucius the west one is Qisheng Gate, where Confucius’ parents are enshrined the middle one is Dacheng Gate the left one is Jinsheng Gate the right one is Yuzhen Gate.
Apricot Altar (杏坛)
It is said to be the place where Confucius gave lectures. With carved beams and painted rafters, the altar has an exquisite stone censer in front, a few apricot trees beside. In the spring red flowers flickers in the wind.
Two Rooms at the Side of the Principal Rooms (两庑)
These two rooms, just at the east and west side of Dacheng Hall, are places for the posterity to worship a galaxy of Confucian school, such as Dong Zhongshu, Han Yu, Wang Yangming and the like. Now, stone tablets are displayed in the rooms, which are art treasures of high historic value.
Dacheng Hall (大成殿)
Seen from the north of Apricot Alta, this golden Dacheng hall comes into your eyes. The sapphire vertical board is inscribed with three golden Chinese characters – 大成殿 – by Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty. Dacheng hall is the main hall of Temple of Confucius, 24.8 metres tall, 45.78 metres wide, and 24.89 metres deep, and deemed as one of the greatest oriental halls, together with the Imperial Palace, Tiankuang Hall of Dai Temple. In the middle of the hall is enshrined with the figure of Confucius that is 3.35 metres tall and dressed as an emperor. Not only is the statue surrounded by other sacred statues, but also musical instruments and dancing apparel are displayed. Outside the hall hang ten horizontal board and three couplets, all of which are exquisite and elegant. The hall, constructed on two-tier bases, connects a terrace which is two metres tall, 4.5 metres wide, and 35 metres long. When it comes to 28 th , September of lunar year, dances are performed here in celebration of the birth of Confucius.
Qin Hall (寝殿)
One of the three greatest architectures is Qin Hall, a special ancestral temple for worshiping the wife of Confucius. The hall is so well decorated that it looks like a palace of the empress.
Shengji Hall (圣迹殿)
Behind the Qing Hall, Shengji Hall was built in the year of 1529, and is famous for the preservation of stone carvings, picture-story books, paintings relevant to Confucius. Many portraits drawn by notable artists like Gu Kaizhi of Jin dynasty (265-240), Wu Daozi of Tang Dynasty (618-907) are also seen in the Shengji Hall. So, all these relics are of great historic and artistic value.
Cemetery of Confucius (孔林)
Located in the north of Qufu city, it is the exclusive Cemetery of Confucius and his families. At the same time, it is the largest clan cemetery of the longest history around the world. The number of trees in the cemetery has reached more than ten thousands since Confucius’s disciple Zigong firstly planted. According to the remarkable scholar Guo Moruo, Cemetery of Confucius is not only a natural museum but also a chronicle of the Kongs. In the beginning, when Confucius passed away, his pupils buried him along the Sishui River of Shandong province, and later, as the status of Confucius was raised, the scale of cemetery was expanded. Now the wall of the cemetery is as long as 7.25 kilometres, 3 meters tall and 5 metres thick, covering an area of 2000 square metres, much bigger than the Qufu city. As the clan cemetery, burial has been uninterrupted during the two thousand years, so it remains a valuable source for the study of funeral custom since the Spring and Autumn period. As yet, there are more than ten thousand trees, some of which are even strange for common people! No wonder it is entitled to the epithet of natural botanical garden. In effect, Cemetery of Confucius deserves the name of tablets forest, in that pyramids of tablets inscribed by celebrities of different generations can be found here and there.
Sprite Way (神道)
Stepping in the north outside the Qufu city will lead you to a cypress-lined path, amid which stands a Wanguchangchun memorial archway. It is supported by six stone pillars, with twelve stone lions couching on both sides. In the east and west side of this elegant and magnificent memorial archway is an emerald-tiled pavilion, in which is erected a stone tablet.
Zhushui Bridge (洙水桥)
Zhushui Bridge spanning Zhushui River has its history of renovation on the tablets in its south and north end. A quadrangle dwelling in the north end of the bridge is called Si Tang, which used to be the locker room for people offering sacrifice to Confucius. On the inner wall are embedded with pyramids of tablets paying tribute to Confucius.
Xiang Hall (享殿)
You are greeted by Dangmu Gate with green tiles before you reach the Xiang Hall. Paved path leading to Xiang Hall has four pairs of stone carvings, each of which is exquisitely made. Now in the hall you can find lines written by Emperor Hongli (1711-1799) of Qing Dynasty.
Tomb of Confucius (孔子墓)
It is the centre of Cemetery of Confucius. The tomb, resembling the horse back, is surrounded by a red wall, and is inscribed with "大成至圣文宣王墓" by Huang Yangzheng in 1443. In front of the tomb lies a stone platform, while in the east of tomb of Confucius is his son’s and in the south is his grandson’s.
Cottages of Zigong (子贡庐墓处)
Zigong, who had kept his teacher Confucius’ tomb for three years together with his classmates, did the guarding alone for another three year. Therefore, people built three cottages in the west in honour of this touching event. Behind the Xiang Hall stands a pavilion, in which a tablet is inscribed with an ancient Pistacia chinensis. It is said that Zigong hastened back upon the death of his teacher’s death and planted this tree next to the tomb, but in the Qing Dynasty was destroyed. So people had the image of the tree carved on the tablet.
Tomb of Kong Shangren (孔尚任墓)
In the northeast of Cemetery of Confucius, you can discover a huge tablet erected along the road, that is the gravestone of Kong Shangren, the playwright of Qing Dynasty and author of The Peach Blossom Fan. Looking westward, you can see tomb collections of Han dynasty and Ming Dynasty.
Memorial Archway of Lady Yu (于氏坊)
It was said since the daughter had a pigmented naevus on her face, which was likely to bring her disaster, she must marry a descendant of the sage, but as intermarry between the Han nationality and the Manchu was forbidden at that epoch, Emperor Qianlong designated Yu Mingzhong as her daughter’s adopted father. In this way could Lady Yu get married to the Kong family. So this memorial archway was set up for the lady.
In 1331 construction work began on the wall and gate of the cemetery. In total, the cemetery has undergone 13 renovations and extensions. Eventually, by the late 18th century, the perimeter wall reached a length of 7.5 kilometres (4.7 mi), enclosing an area of 3.6 square kilometres (1.4 sq mi). [ citation needed ] In this space, the tombs of more than 100,000 descendants of Confucius, who have been buried there over a period of about 2,000 years, can be found. The oldest graves date back to the Zhou Dynasty, the most recent of which belong to descendants in the 76th and 78th generation.
The cemetery suffered serious damage in November 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, when it was visited and vandalized by a team of Red Guards from Beijing Normal University, led by Tan Houlan.   The corpse of the 76th-generation Duke Yansheng was removed from its grave and hung naked from a tree in front of the palace during the desecration of the cemetery in the Cultural Revolution. 
The Temple and Cemetery of ConfuciusView all photos
Qufu is well off the beaten international tourist track, and most visitors are domestic Chinese tourists. They come to see the ancestral home and the tomb of Kong Qiu, better known to us as Confucius.
The Kong family temple complex and cemetery is a perfect antidote to the stress and tumult of modern urban China. The complex is a quiet, peaceful place of ancient pine and cypress trees, thousands of tumbled gravestones, and finely-detailed classical Chinese architecture that glows warm brick red in the slanting late autumn sunlight. Confucius’ tomb is a surprisingly modest one, nestled amongst the thousands of his descendants.
Shortly after his death in 479 BC, Confucius’ small family home was consecrated as a shrine to his memory. Throughout subsequent generations, as his philosophy became the primary ideology throughout China, his descendants expanded the family compound and were buried in its vicinity.
At its peak in the 16th century, the mansion was made up of 170 buildings with 560 rooms, but only 152 buildings with 480 rooms survive. Over 100,000 Kong family descendants are buried in the family cemetery, which also features hundreds of varieties of trees planted by generations of pilgrims.
Although few people specifically identify themselves as Confucian, the tenets of Confucianism permeate the cultures of many Asian countries and complement philosophies as wide-ranging as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and even Marxism. The philosophy is humanistic and non-theistic and provides an underpinning to the way adherents act as members of their family and society.
Know Before You Go
Qufu is home to three separate but related sites: the Kong family mansion, the Kong temple complex, and the Kong family cemetery. The temple and mansion are located adjacent to each other, while the cemetery lies about a kilometer to the north.
Love of learning
Confucius showed a zeal for academics early on. “At 15, I set my heart on learning,” he later told his disciples. He studied music, mathematics, the classics, history, and more. He was especially entranced by the early years of the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 B.C.), a peaceful period he perceived as a golden age to be emulated.
Confucius stressed the cultivation of personal qualities such as benevolence, reciprocity, and filial piety.
Confucius believed that education and reflection led to virtue, and that those who aspired to command others must cultivate discipline and moral authority in themselves. He strove to rise through the government ranks, but he tended to offend others with his forceful personality, using his position as a bully pulpit for preaching good governance. He eventually was appointed to the influential post of minister of crime in the state of Lu but fell from favor through his aggressive reform efforts.
He tried for years to reenter public service in order to improve it from within, but he found far greater success as a teacher instead. Confucius broke with tradition in his belief that all human beings could benefit from education. He espoused lifelong learning “for the sake of the self,” meaning self- knowledge and self-improvement. He attracted a wide circle of followers, who knew him as Kongfuzi (Master Kong). Those pupils recorded his words in The Analects, a collection of ethical concepts.
As stated in The Analects, Confucius believed that social harmony would naturally follow from the proper ordering of individuals in relation to
one another, with the family unit as the basic building block of society. He therefore stressed the cultivation of personal qualities such as benevolence, reciprocity, and filial piety as essential to the formation of well-educated, conscientious individuals who would benefit society through public service.
Temple, mansion and cemetery: Going back to the era of Confucius
Rickshaws and horse-drawn carriages cruise past a fortified complex standing tall in Qufu in China’s Shangdong Province. This is dedicated to the revered Chinese philosopher, statesman and the founder of Confucianism, Confucius – who advocated a strict code of moral and social values for society.
Venerating a great philosopher: Confucius devotees at the temple
Confucius who was born in 551 BC and died in 479 BC, is known as the Sage Teacher whose philosophy dominated the feudal society of China and generations that came afterwards. Even in present day China, he is considered a role model and greatly venerated.
Qufu – the hometown of Confucius,where his descendants with the ‘Kong’ family name are said to be still living, enjoys worldwide attention as a visit to the temple, mansion and the cemetery of Confucius is truly a profound artistic and cultural experience.
A symbol of traditional Chinese culture, it has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The magnificent layout of the temple and mansion complex which was expanded through the successive dynasties of Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing although destroyed, was renovated several times, in line with ancient Chinese architecture.
On entering the premises (this fortified complex can be accessed via four gates) you may notice a bell and a drum on either side of the gigantic stone fortification.
A carved pillar with dragons coiled around
In ancient times, ringing of the bell during sunrise and beating of the drum at sunset had been a routine practice.
A long row of cyprus and pine trees over seven or eight hundred years old leads to the Temple of Confucius, also known as the Temple of the Supreme Saint.
It is said to have been built one year after the death of Confucius on the orders of Duke Ai of the State of Lu, as a place for praise and worship of Confucianism.
According to the tourist information display boards at the site, the temple premises spans over 1000 metres from north to south, and 150 metres from east to west and consists of nine courtyards, each entered through a grand gateway built by successive dynasties.
Today, the temple houses about 100 buildings from the Jin to Ming dynasties including small pavilions with stone inscriptions of the emperor scholars who passed the examinations based on Confucius theory to become the Members of the State.
The main building of the temple, Dacheng Hall is also known as the Hall of Great Accomplishment. This is where sacrifices to Confucius are offered and here you will see many including young children burning incense to worship the great scholar.
The temple is considered one of the most ancient buildings of China and this yellow tiled-roof structure, supported by opulently decorated pillars, is staggeringly beautiful.
A flight of stone steps and you are greeted by a long verandah with 28 carved pillars with dragons coiled around.
We are told by our tour guide that no building in the city of Qufu is allowed to exceed the height of this building, out of respect for Confucius.
Xingtan pavilion, also known as the Apricot pavilion –is believed to be the place where Confucius lectured his disciples, under an Apricot tree.
The house occupied by Confucius and his mother
Overlooking the pavilion is an incense burner – it is said an incense stick which generally lasted for about an hour was used to keep a track of the time during lectures.
To the east of the temple, you find the Kong family mansion- the house occupied by Confucius and his mother which had been later given an aristocratic touch, adding on extensions throughout the time when Confucius’ family descendants lived and worked there.
The mansion served as the official mansion of each generation of the Duke of Yansheng. (In feudal society the lineal descendants of Confucius who were named the Sacrificial Officials to Confucius, were granted the title of nobility- Duke of Yansheng and they enjoyed special privileges.
Their fiefdom had its own court of law). Accordingly, the family mansion of Confucius was also called the ‘Mansion of Duke of Yansheng.’
Narrow alleys leading up to this architectural combination of living quarters and offices, cover an area of 120 thousand sq. metres.
While a separate meeting place known as the Upper Front Chamber served as a meeting place for the Dukes of Yang Sheng with their relatives and close clansmen during weddings, funerals and other celebrations, the Third Hall, with the reception and waiting room, is where they dealt with family affairs.
The mansion also has a separate hall where the Duke received the Emperor’s decree, met officials and carried out family rules.
A rough, uneven stone slab outside the hall gives an idea of how punishment was meted out to those who broke the family laws. They were made to kneel on the slab for hours in the sun.
The old well and the gutter through which water was carried to the inner apartments have been preserved. It is said that in ancient days, the emperors drank water from this well in the belief that it gave them wisdom.
Step out into the garden from the mansion and a long pathway through a forest leads to the place where Confucius and his descendants were laid to rest. Covering about 183 hectares, the cemetery is said to contain more than 100,000 graves of Confucius’ descendents.
While you can stroll around the cemetery on foot, buggy carts also operate at a reasonable cost. Most visitors stop at Confucius’ tomb which is in a quiet corner of the graveyard to offer garlands and flowers.
A visit the temple, mansion and the cemetery of Confucius in essence, is an insight into the historical, cultural, political and administrative system of the great philosopher’s day.
A visit to Qufu which can be accessed via high speed train from Beijing would mean setting aside the better part of a day but it is certainly worth it.
After checking out of our hotel, we headed to the closest of the trifecta of Confucius-related sights in Qufu, the Confucius Family Cemetery. I mentioned in a previous post that although there are not very many signs, the road to the cemetery is pretty clear. We headed north from the center of town, and a walking path on the median of the main road leads the way all the way to the cemetery gates. We thought we had arrived when we reached the gates, but we realized that we were only about half way to the start of the cemetery! We bought our combination tickets for the cemetery, Kong Family Mansion and Confucius Temple here- just remember to keep your ticket safe for entrance into the other attractions! After the ticket booth was another ticket booth, this one was for an electric car ride around the cemetery. We opted to walk, but if visitors want to see around the whole cemetery, the electric car is definitely the way to go, because this cemetery is HUGE! Confucius, his sons, prominent followers, and hundreds of thousands of descendants are buried in this cemetery.
LONG walk from the ticket gate to cemetery entrance ALMOST there
Once inside the red cemetery gate, we took a left down the first path that led to Confucius’ tomb. Visitors could take all day wandering the paths of this large park-like cemetery, but we had one day to see everything, so we went straight for the grave of Confucius. Burial mounds dotted the landscape along the sides of the path. Each section of the cemetery included graves from different dynasties/time periods. The earliest graves were from the Zhou dynasty (1046-771 B.C.)! That’s OLD! Sign posts led the way to the entrance path of Confucius’ grave.
The way leading up to Confucius’ grave was multi-layered. First, a gate, with guardian statues on either side of the walkway. A side building was built next to the walkway for the descendants of Confucius to cleanse themselves before going to bring offerings to the grave. I thought for sure that the first grand temple-like building was the place where he was buried, but I was wrong!
In Qufu, we noticed that artistic renderings of Confucius were not very flattering. Austin wondered aloud if Confucius was really this ugly in real life! Most pictures showed him fat, with lots of wrinkles and buck teeth. After stopping by the graves of some of his sons and followers, we finally made it to his grave. There was a small altar for people to pray and leave offerings of food or flowers. A booth nearby sold placards for writing prayers to leave at the grave. After all of the guardians and gates and pavilions along the way, I guess I was expecting something more grand from Confucius’ grave. It was still neat to see it, since Confucius lived in 500 B.C.
After seeing the tomb, a side exit led out to another forest path. It was hot, and time to move on to the next site, so we headed back to the main gate and on to the Kong Family Mansion. If we had more time, I would have loved to wander around a bit more, as there were prominent and very old sculptures and stelae around the cemetery that would have been cool to see. We did NOT want to walk any more in the heat, though. Because we walked everywhere in Qufu, we brought our stroller, and found the cemetery to be mostly stroller friendly. Going into the grave of Confucius, we had to lift the stroller up stairs at times, but it was worth it to have a place to park the kids and walk. Visitors with kids should plan on either bringing a stroller/carrier or taking the electric cars around the park. The distances here are too long for most young children! Bring snacks, water, sunscreen, hats, etc. There are some restaurants outside of the gate, but no amenities inside the gates for tourists. We did find some ladies inside that were offering tours in Chinese. They even tried to offer us a tour in Chinese, but we turned her down. So, impromptu tours are available for Chinese speakers!
Together with the other two Confucius- related sites, the cemetery is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I would recommend spending at least an hour here taking in the scenery and history. After living in the hustle and bustle of the city, the peaceful greenery of the cemetery is exactly what I needed!