Temple sights in Asia
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The Taoist Temple of Mystery stands in what was once Sūzhōu's old bazaar, a rowdy entertainment district with travelling showmen, acrobats and actors. The temple's present surroundings of Guanqian Jie are just as boisterous, but the current showmen are more likely to sell you a fake designer watch than balance plates on their heads.
The temple was founded during the Jin dynasty in the 3rd century AD, and restored many times over its long history. The complex contains several elaborately decorated halls, including Sānqīng Diàn (Three Purities Hall), which is supported by 60 pillars and capped by a double roof with upturned eaves. The temple dates from 1181 and is the…
The main building of this former Confucian Temple is currently under renovation and should look stunning when complete. Visitors are still able to enter the compound and should look out for some fabulous stelae carved during the Southern Song dynasty (1137–1279). One features a map of old Sūzhōu – it details the canal system (much of which is now paved over and blocked), old roads and the city walls dating to 1229. Surprisingly, the whole city grid is relatively unchanged from 800 years ago. There's also an astronomy stelae from 1190 – one of the oldest astronomy charts in the world.