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Discovering Best Taiwan Temples

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Throughout Taiwan, you will find a collection of more than 5,000 incredible temples. Some are small, with one simple room, while others are large complexes with several, multi-level buildings.

Taiwan hosts three main types of temples: the Taoist, the Buddhist, and the Confucius. Each reflects the religious beliefs of the unique group it represents. There are, however, a few temples that are both Taoist and Buddhist. During the time period when Japan occupied Taiwan, those with Taoist beliefs were often persecuted. Because Taoism was so important to the culture, many Taoists used to go to Buddhist temples to pray.

In many temples, you’ll find representations of all three belief systems, proof of the distinct levels of tolerance throughout the country. No matter where you go in Taiwan, you are bound to run into at least one or two temples. Here are a few to watch out for.

Longshan Temple

The Longshan Temple is the oldest temple in Taiwan and, as such, is also the busiest in terms of not only worship but tourist activity as well. Built in 1738 by Chinese settlers, the temple offers visitors a distinct representation of original Taiwanese architecture.

Inside the temple, you’ll find a careful blend of Buddhist and Taoist worship. You’ll see representations of several folk gods, like Matsu, as well. All in all, there are more than 165 different Chinese Gods represented throughout the temple’s shrines.

Longshan Temple can be found in the Wanhua District of Taipei City. The temple is free of charge and is open daily from 6 am until 10 pm.

Dharma Drum Mountain

Dharma Drum Mountain is one of the most recognized international Buddhist temples in the world. Located in Jinshan County, the design for the current temple took 7 years to complete and construction was not finished until 2001.

The temple is more a Buddhist education center than it is a simple temple. Inside the complex, you’ll find a collection of monasteries, offices, and the campuses of three different universities and colleges, all of which train both Buddhist monks and laypersons alike.

Baoan Temple

The Baoan Temple, also found in the city of Taipei, is a Taoist temple. Construction of this magnificent architectural wonder began as early as 1805 and, for some reason, took more than 25 years to complete.

Inside the Baoan Temple, you will find a wide variety of people worshipping their gods. Most bring offerings but they’re not as traditional as you might expect to see. Today’s modern offerings include bags of sugar, cans of soda, candy, and anything else easily accessible to people.

Matsu Temple

In Lukang you will find the Matsu Temple. The original construction date is uncertain but the temple was renovated during the mid-1930s. The goddess who “hosts” this temple is Matsu, the Goddess of the Sea. It is believed that Matsu helped the Ching dynasty regain control of Taiwan after the Ming had overtaken it in the 17th century.

The Matsu Temple is an incredibly popular destination, partially because of the importance of Matsu but also because the people enjoy the location near the sea. The temple’s architecture represents a blend of different artists, each chosen because they had different yet unique skill sets.

Chelan Temple

The Chelan Temple, located in Tachia, is considered one of the most popular religious epicenters in the country. The temple is also nicknamed the “Matzu Temple,” but should not be confused with the aforementioned Matsu Temple. There are, believe it or not, more than 500 different temples with statues of Matzu within them scattered throughout Taiwan.

It is believed that the Chelan Temple became a part of the Fukien province during the 1700s. The architecture, ornate designs, and decorations feature beautiful birds, flowers, and carvings representing several different botanical and wildlife creations. The Chelan Temple is open to the public from 3:30 am until 11:00 pm each day.

The temples of Taiwan, each different in their own right, all serve one purpose. Each one gives worshippers a safe place within which to honor their gods and goddesses, pray, and evolve spiritually. Please remember to be respectful if you should have the opportunity to visit one of Taiwan’s incredible temples. While you may view them as tourist attractions, most are still active places of worship today.

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