There are no panels describing the temple or its gods, so either read up beforehand or let one of our guides enlighten you!
The Old City God Temple was built during the Yongle Reign of Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). It adjoins the Yuyuan Garden complex in Shanghai’s Old Town. The Old Town functioned as a sort of Chinese ghetto after the Opium War in 1842, when the city conceded control of much of its administration and trade to the British. However, it resisted the influence of the foreigners, retaining a distinct cultural identity. Today, as shopping centres and fast food joints proliferate around them, the garden complex and the temple stand as bastions of Shanghai’s past.
There is a saying in the city that goes along the lines of, “one who fails to reach the temple never reaches Shanghai.” This underlines the central importance of the temple to the city. Centuries ago it was built to protect the people of the city, enshrining three city gods: Huoguang, a renowned general of the Han Dynasty; Qin Yuno, a celebrity of the Yuan Dynasty who served as chief imperial examiner; and Chen Huacheng, a general who died in the defence of Shanghai during the First Opium War. The three city gods have quite a lot of leg room: today’s temple includes no less than nine palaces.
Visitors can do more than simply pray and admire the setting: there are regular performances, including acrobatics and calligraphy. It is also home to dozens of places to eat, the most famous of which is the Lu Bo Lang Restaurant, which has received Queen Elizabeth II and the former US president Bill Clinton, among many other guests — you’ll be in fine company.
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