17 Apr 2019
The bustle of this port city is no new thing, Guangzhou has been the centre of trading in China for centuries. Today the modernised metropolis murmurs with low conversation and the slow milling of visitors. It seems the city has slowed somewhat in its later years, enticing tourists into leafy districts scattered with colonial architecture, mosques, restaurants and scattered temples, each with its own identity and story – each of some significance to the heritage of Guangzhou, and every single one undoubtedly worth a visit.
The Guangxiao Temple
Dating back over 2,000 years Guangxiao (or Bright Filial Piety Temple) is one of the oldest temples in Guangzhou and would have provided a timeline of two millennia of Chinese religious architecture had much of it not been destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, although partly restored in the 1980s. A former stopover for missionary monks and residence of influential Zen Buddhist masters. Visitors are often drawn to the two metre, green marble Great Compassion Column that stands in front of Mahavira Hall. Look closely to find an engraved relief of Hercules around the base.
Built between 502-549 in the Qing Dynasty, the Nengren Temple – one of the ‘Three Buddhist Temples of Jiujiang’ – juts upwards from the forested slopes of Mount Baiyun, struggling to crane its neck over a ring of tall, leafy trees. You’ll find shoals of fish in the pond and a gang of well-protected tortoises, regarded as lucky in Chinese culture.
Temple of the Six Baiyun Trees
This elegant Buddhist temple is as attractive as its name suggests. Built originally in AD 537, the temple area includes the Six Banyan Pagoda, with its impressive collection of Buddhist relics pushing skywards in a series of red-tinted roofs resembling up-turned flowers. While the Daxiong Baodian Hall houses some of the oldest statues of Buddha in the region.
Nansha Tin Hau Palace
Outside of Guangzhou itself is the Nansha Tin Hau Palace, covering a 100-hectare site. Mazu, Goddess of the Sea, and in whose honour the complex was built welcomes visitors in before they glide through to the Hall of Blessing set in a verdant landscape and watched over by the 8-storey Nanling Tower standing 45m above the crest of the hill.
The Dafo Temple
You’ll find this sacred Buddhist temple – sometimes called the Big Buddha Temple for the vast reclining Buddha that dominates the complex. Dafo Temple was built over a thousand years ago by Emperor Liu Yan (917-971) and is often acclaimed as being one of the ‘Five Largest Temples of Guangzhou’. Aside from the Buddha are thousands of scripts etched into gold and silver scrolls, while the site is over watched by the 13-storey Clay Pagoda. At night the whole building is illuminated with a gorgeous mixed hue of orange and red.
Clan Chen Academy
The Chen Clan Ancestral Hall was built by the 72 Chen clans in the Qing Dynansty. It is both an ancestral and academic temple, often occupied by students preparing for imperial examinations. It also houses the Guangdong Folk Art Museum and an array of architecture and sculptures – mythical creatures and depictions of classical tales from Chinese folklore.
Stay at the Jumeirah Guangzhou to enjoy easy access and short walks to these stunning temples.