The most important of Wanhua’s “big three” temples (the others being Qingshui and Qingshan), Longshan Temple (龍山寺; lóngshān sì) is the ideal place to soak up Taiwan’s vibrant religious traditions. Located a block north of Longshan Temple MRT Station across Mangka Park, the temple was established in 1738 (making it Taipei’s oldest), renovated 1919–1924 and partially rebuilt after US bombing destroyed much of the complex during World War II. It’s principally a Buddhist temple dedicated to the Bodhisattva Guanyin, but there are more than a hundred deities worshipped here, mostly from the Taoist pantheon.

The main entrance on Guangzhou Street borders a pleasant courtyard, replete with artificial waterfall on the right-hand side. Before entering the temple proper, take a look at the two dragon pillars outside the Front Hall, the only bronze pair in Taiwan. Once inside you’ll see prayer tables and worshippers facing the Main Hall in the centre where Guanyin is enshrined – the principal image of the goddess has proved virtually indestructible over the years, surviving local conflicts, earthquakes and even the US bombing. Note the two gold censers (incense burners) in front of the hall, with their vivid cast images of “silly barbarians lifting a corner of the temple”, supposedly eighteenth-century depictions of the Dutch. This is the busiest part of the temple, but the deity-packed Rear Hall also receives a steady stream of visitors. The goddess Mazu is worshipped in the centre and fringed by guāngmíng lights, each representing a donation made in the hope of attracting good fortune. To the far right is a separate shrine dedicated to the gods of literature, primarily Wenchang Dijun in the middle, patronized by students and anxious parents at examination time. Guan Di occupies the shrine on the far left and in front of this in a side hall is a newer altar dedicated to the Matchmaker, a sort of Chinese cupid.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Taiwan features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Cool Taipei: 8 tips for exploring the city

Cool Taipei: 8 tips for exploring the city

As the only democracy in the Chinese speaking world and the most progressive city for LGBTQ+ rights in Asia, a legacy of artists and activists have worked to ma…

19 Oct 2016 • Colt St. George insert_drive_file Article
10 street foods you need to try in Taiwan

10 street foods you need to try in Taiwan

Taiwanese xiǎochī, or “small eats”, are justly famed, and no trip would be complete without several street food feasts. Night markets are among the best …

11 Nov 2015 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The best of the world's smallest countries

The best of the world's smallest countries

Qatar Jutting northwards into the Persian Gulf, Qatar is one of the world’s smaller nations (about the size of Yorkshire, England), but it is also the world…

29 Oct 2014 • Greg Dickinson camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook