Confucius Temple

Confucian Temple in Tainan
Image by Roetting / Pollex / Getty Images

Built in 1666 by the son of Ming loyalist Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga),Taiwan's first Confucian temple and official school is quiet, dignified and coloured red, signifying nobility. The most important among the halls, pagodas and courtyards here is the elegant Dacheng Hall with its unusually tall double-eave roof and minipagoda. The temple gardens are lovely, a community hang-out where you'll find people exercising, feeding the squirrels and sketching.

Entry to the temple grounds is free, but you must pay to enter the palace area. Look out for the stone tablet on the right as you enter the Edification Hall. It explains the school rules (the site was once a centre for Confucian studies), such as prohibitions of gambling, drinking and cheating.

A solemn Confucius Memorial Ceremony takes place outside Dacheng Hall on 28 September every year and a smaller one on the spring equinox (春分), around 21 March. Dancers in rows perform choreographed moves that supposedly originate from the ceremonial dances of the imperial court.

The temple is part of a larger cultural zone that includes the Old Japanese Martial Arts Academy, a renovated Japanese dojo built in 1926 and once used to train the colonial police force.

Across the street from the temple entrance is a stone arch that was crafted by masons in Quanzhou, Fujian, in 1777. It's now the gateway to a pedestrianised street filled with cafes and small eateries.