Sprawling across Northern Taiwan is the capital city, Taipei. This modern city is famous for its Taipei 101 building, as well as luxury clubs and fine dining establishments. But dotted amongst the city’s towering skyscrapers are a number of beautiful temples that remind visitors of Taiwan’s cultural history. From colorful architecture to elegant simplicity, Taipei’s temples have it all. To discover the must-see religious sites in this booming metropolis, check out our guide to Taipei’s must-see temples.
Originally built in 1738 by Fujian immigrants, Mengjia Longshan Temple is one of the most renowned cultural attractions in Taipei. The temple has been damaged by fires and earthquakes multiple times over the years, but it has always been faithfully restored. Though the structure was built to specifically worship Guanyin, the goddess of Mercy, statues honoring over 100 other gods and goddesses can be discovered throughout. Built in the style of a palace complex with five different sections, the temple is guarded by mythical creatures including dragons, phoenixes, and heroes from ancient Chinese folklore.
Datong District is home to Baoan Temple, a recipient of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award. Initially constructed as a rustic structure in the mid-1700s, the temple’s popularity inspired its transformation into the vibrant, stunning building it is today. Stone-carved artwork can be discovered in all of the temple’s rooms, but the oldest carvings are located in the Sanchuan Dian, or front hall, where two centuries-old dragon columns spiral towards the roof. An annual folk arts festival is held at the temple from March to June and features parades, opera performances, and even a free health clinic, a nod to the temple’s main god, Baosheng Dadi, renowned for his medical knowledge.
Situated in Wanhua District, Qingshan Temple is an elegant structure built to honor the god Qingshan Wang. Though not as well-known or as large as the nearby Longshan Temple, the building’s stone carvings and striking ceilings make it worth a trip. The temple is constructed from wood and stone, with intricate artistic detailing on the walls and ceiling. In particular, the colorful mosaic relief in the roof is not to be missed. Toward the end of each year, a two-night festival takes place celebrating Qingshan Wang’s birthday. This vibrant celebration is marked with fireworks, lanterns, and a colorful nighttime parade.
Confucius is renowned as one of China’s most significant teachers and philosophers, and his ideals are famous for having greatly influenced the Chinese civilization. Today, temples devoted to Confucius are scattered across many Asian cities, including Taipei. Unlike other temples in Taipei, the design of the Confucius Temple is more simplistic, without many elaborate adornments on the interior. The temple was originally built in 1879, but was destroyed when Taiwan came under Japanese rule. In 1930, the temple was rebuilt by well-known craftsman Wang Yi-Shun, who also designed Longshan Temple.
Ciyou Temple is dedicated to Mazu, the sea goddess who watches over sailors and fisherman. According to legend, the temple was built by a traveling monk who joined forces with a group of Mazu followers, and together they spent 10 years raising enough money to fund the project. This Taoist temple is ornately designed with much attention to detail, though its elaborate roof is what truly sets it apart. Colorful ceramic dragons rise from the multi-tiered rooftop, giving the structure an impressive façade that is easily recognizable from afar.