The oldest Confucius temple, in Pingyao County in north China's Shanxi Province, was opened to the public Monday after a one-year renovation project.
A state-level key cultural relics site, the Pingyao Confucius Temple is located in the southwest of Pingyao, whose ancient township compound was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site for its intact ancient structure and well-preserved traditional Chinese architectures.
The main building of the temple was built in 1163, in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), and has a history of more than 840 years. Compared with other famous Confucius temples nationwide, it was built 248 years earlier than that in Beijing, and 317 years earlier than that in Qufu City, Confucius's home in east China's Shandong Province.
The temple in Qufu was added to the list of the World Cultural Heritages in 1995.
The Pingyao Confucius Temple has China's largest statue collection of Confucius and famous ancient Confucian scholars.
Covering a total area of 40,000 square meters, the temple has 112 buildings in 16 categories.
The temple was used as a campus for the Pingyao Middle School since 1949. After its new campus and facilities were completed, the middle school moved out and the renovation project started, at the authorization of the county government, in June 2003 in conformity to rules of "rebuilding ancient relics as they are." The refurbishing project cost a total of 32 million yuan (US$3.9 million).
Confucius has been regarded as the forefather of Chinese culture during the past 2,500 plus years and temples worshipping him were built everywhere in ancient China, some of which are still well preserved today.
(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2004)