With thousands of colorful and beautifully designed temples all over Taiwan, checking out some of these unique buildings while visiting Taipei or elsewhere on the island is a must. Taiwanese temples are a great way to experience the culture and customs of Taiwan first hand and some of Taiwan's temples are enshrouded in history, being some of the first buildings built by Han Chinese moving to Taiwan.
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10 Fascinating Temples in Taiwan to Check Out
Penghu Tianhou Temple Magong
Oldest Temple in Taiwan
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Home to some of Taiwan's most beautiful beaches the islands of Penghu are also the site of the oldest temple in Taiwan. Known as the Penghu Tianhou Temple, it's believed to have been first built back in 1604 although some believe it could be even older as far back as the 15th century. Dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, Penghu's main city of Magong was built around the temple.
Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum
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One of the most famous sites in the southern city of Kaohsiung, while it lacks history being a recent addition, this huge temple complex makes up for it with impressive grander. Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum is a huge district of temples, pagodas, shrines and exhibits dedicated to promoting and educating about Buddhism. The temple is located outside of Kaohsiung City at the foot of the mountains and is easily the largest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan.
Bao An Temple
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Not only is Penghu home to the oldest temple in Taiwan, it's also where you'll find one of the most unique and beautiful. Bao An Temple is covered in huge banyan tree roots that curl around the temple buildings giving it its unique appearance. The Tongliang Great Banyan is said to be over 200 years old and has a sacred status among the local people of Penghu.
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Once much like most other temples found around Taiwan, Wuchang Temple in central Nantou County was completely devastated by the 1999 Jiji earthquake that ruined much of Central Taiwan. Instead of demolishing the ruins and rebuilding the temple like most others ruined by the earthquake, the Wuchang Temple was left as a reminder of the devastating impact and and power an earthquake can have.
The new temple has been rebuilt across from the damaged temple, to allow locals to visit while still keeping the old temple ruins as a memorial for the 1991 earthquake.
Taroko Eternal Spring Shrine
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Deep in the dramatic canyons of Taroko Gorge, one of the most famous scenic areas in Taiwan, the view of the Eternal Spring Shrine is particularly beautiful, built into the side of a steep cliff with cascading waterfalls below it.
The famous shrine was built in 1958 in memory of 212 works who lost their lives while constructing the Central Cross-Island Highway that cuts through the towering rocky mountains of Central Taiwan.
Chung Tai Chan Monastery
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Rising up over the laid-back central town of Puli, the sight of Chung Tai Chan Monastery is nothing short of spectacular. It's one of the tallest Buddhist monasteries in the world at a height of 136 metres and the design of the building
If you're visiting the area to see Sun Moon Lake, consider dropping by Puli and this huge monastery.
Temples in and around Taipei
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The most famous and popular temple in the capital city Taipei, Longshan Temple is also the oldest, located in the historic district of Wanhua once known as Bangka. Built in 1740 during the Qing Dynasty when Taipei was just a small settlement, the temple served as a place of worship for the early Han settlers there.
Sanzhi Seashell Temple
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In the hills north of Taipei, this temple is lavishly decorated with thousands of colorful seashells and coral. The temple is a little more difficult to reach than others, being far out of Taipei City, but well worth the extra effort for the incredibly unique appearance of the building.
Note there's also a similar temple in the city of Changhua, Sanqingyuan Temple or the Changhua Sea-Shell Temple is also incredibly beautiful, decorated with seashells often as artistic murals. It's also just across from the historic ancient town of Lukang, another great reason to visit Changhua.
Chih Nan Temple
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Chih Nan Temple or Zhi Nan Temple is one of the most beautiful temples in Taiwan, with its idyllic location perched at the side of a mountain in Taipei's popular mountainous area of Maokong. The grounds of the temple has some beautiful views over the surrounding scenery and despite the popularity of neighboring Maokong, not many people tend to visit the temple, making it a great place to get some peace and quiet.
Maokong is highly recommended as a day trip around Taipei for the beautiful views over towards Taipei City from the many traditional teahouses you'll find there.
Wuji Tianyuan Temple
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If you're visiting Taiwan and Taipei during February, consider heading to Wuji Tianyuan Temple near the coastal town of Tamsui. Particularly famous for the cherry blossom trees around the temple that usually bloom in early February, the sight of the unique temple surrounded by the beautiful pink flowering trees is one of the most underrated views on the island. While it's not really well known among foreign tourists, the temple can get quite crowded from local Taiwanese visiting the area during the short flowering season.
Other Interesting Religious Buildings to Check Out
The LDS Temple Taiwan (Taipei Taiwan Temple) is a church of Latter-day Saints in Taipei with some unique architecture that stands out. A few minutes walk away towards Daan Park is the Taipei Grand Mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in Taiwan and the center of Islam on the island.
Mt. Bagua Great Buddha Scenic Area - a huge Buddha statue outside the city of Changhua with sweeping views over the city from its hilltop location.
Kaohsiung's Lotus Pond is famous for the temples and pagodas around the picturesque lake setting, in particular the impressive Dragon and Tiger Pagodas and Spring and Autumn Pavilions.
More About Taiwan Temples
Temples around Taiwan are often devoted to certain gods and figures within Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism or other folk religions, often representing various religions and gods under one roof.
Many of the earlier temples built in Taiwan are devoted to Mazu, a Chinese sea goddess who is worshipped in Fujian and by overseas communities of Fujian residents.
Temples in Taiwan don't have a particular dress code, but some may require you to remove your shoes before entering the main building. There will usually be a small sign or a storage space for shoes if it's required. Try also not to step on the raised wooden bar at the bottom of the doorframe, it's meant to be stepped over.