Old City God Temple

Built to protect the people, the gods here are regarded as patron saints in Taoism.

TravelCurious Tip

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.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Shanghai
Old Town Shanghai
Situated inside Shanghai's ancient walled city, it is at least 1000 years old and bursting with history.
Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar
Visit the garden then get lost in the bustling bazaar where vendors sell their wares in hidden lanes.
The Bund
As the city's stand out landmark, this remarkable waterfront is perfect for strolling and people-watching.
Anren Street
Stroll through the few remaining laneway houses and see traditional community living that is fast disappearing.
Flower and Bird Market
This is where locals go to buy turtles, fish and flowers and it is one of few traditional markets left.
Egg Pancake
Experience the joy of tasting Jianbing (egg pancake), one of China's best-kept culinary secrets.

Related Tours

Highlights of Shanghai: Private full day tour including Tickets & Transport
Experience all the major highlights of Shanghai on this all-inclusive, full-day private tour. On your private full-day tour, you will:

  • Enjoy the personalised attention of your private guide.
  • Commence your tour at the iconic Jade Buddha Temple, with entrance tickets included
  • Take in the tranquil surroundings by People's Square
  • Venture through the atmospheric Shanghai Old Town.
  • Visit the beautiful Yuyuan Garden (tickets included).
  • Enter the revered Old City of God Temple (tickets included).
  • Learn about Shanghai in the 21st century, at Tianzifang.
  • Walk along the picturesque Bund.
  • Enjoy a ferry ride across the Huangpu River to the futuristic Pudong on the east.
  • End at the iconic Television Tower.
Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient, Shanghai is steeped in culture, history, and glamour in equal measure. Throughout the day, you’ll see the architectural marvels of the city, and learn all about its cultural heritage, its history, its religion, and its contemporary daily life. 

Your day begins at the famous Jade Buddha Temple, home to a priceless collection of jade statues. The temple is designed in the breathtaking architectural style of the Song Dynasty and is the headquarters of the Shanghai Buddhist Institute. Your guide will then continue on to People’s Square. This beautiful green space is a hub of activity and is surrounded by monuments and museums. 

Next, your private guide will take you to Shanghai Old Town and the enchanting Yuyuan Garden. You will see the old-style buildings of the Ming and Qing Dynasty and have the chance to stop and try delicious local delicacies recommended by your guide. You will also visit the revered Old City of God Temple and learn about its statues in Taoism.

Move on from the traditional and learn more about Shanghai’s present as you head down to the exciting Tianzifang - the ‘Soho of Shanghai’. Walk along with the most famous landmark, the Bund. From this beautiful waterfront, enjoy a perfect end to your day as you take a ferry ride across the Huangpu River to the futuristic Pudong on the east shore. There your guide will orient you around the area and take you to the distinctive Oriental Pearl Radio & Television Tower, where the tour ends, allowing you to enjoy free time in the Pudong area, with the glorious views over the river towards the Bund. 
Highlights of Shanghai: Half-Day Private Tour with Tickets
As China's largest and most affluent city Shanghai is rarely static, a city of mind-blowing proportions and an ever-changing urban footprint. Sky-bound superstructures, gleaming designer malls and sweeping, futuristic bridges characterise this modern megalopolis yet Shanghai - meaning City of The Sea - has a history that spans over a thousand years. On your private guided tour of Shanghai, you will: 

  • Enjoy the old, the new, and everything spanning in between with the personalised attention of your private guide
  • Take advantage of skip-the-line tickets (included) to the peaceful Jade Buddha Temple, idyllic Yuyuan Garden and the important Old City of God Temple. Your guide will also have public transport tickets for you
  • Experience the contrasting quietude of the iconic Jade Buddha Temple built in 1882, and the vibrant buzz of the city in leafy People's Square.
  • Admire Ming and Qing Dynasty architecture and the hallowed Old City of God Temple. 
  • Stroll historic Shanghai Old Town to Yuyuan Garden and the bustling Bazaar
  • Soak up views across the Huangpu River at the Bund, a stunning 1.5km waterfront promenade.
Beginning life as a tiny fishing village, the city now showcases China’s 21st Century dynamism in art and design. Upscale apartments, glitzy bars and restaurants overshadow Shanghai’s humble origins. Yet the city owes much to the Yangzi River delta where China's main waterway completes its 5,500-km journey to the Pacific - the trade route on which Shanghai blended East-meets-West culture was born. 

Parts of Shanghai were once independently ruled by British, French, and American colonists, which has left its telltale mark on the architectural and societal character of the city. This contrasting mix of cultures has paved the way for openness to Western influences found in modern Shanghai. See the ancient and the modern, beginning with the Jade Buddha Temple, a beautiful Song Dynasty-era building flanked by statues. Denoting the geographical heart of the city, leafy People’s Square forms a lively daily hub in the thick of it. In Old Shanghai, see the enchanting Yuyuan Garden and the city’s historic Bazaar amidst a storied building of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. In the 15th century, the Old City of God Temple is a grand place of Taoist worship while the Bund, a mesmerizing 1.5 km esplanade along the Huangpu River—is lined with cafés, restaurants and chi-chi boutiques— boasts prized views of the Lujiazui skyline. Enjoy all of this and more on this fabulous all-inclusive half-day private tour. 
Discover the Origins of Shanghai: Private Walking Tour with tickets
Explore the origins of Shanghai, the mesmerising city by the sea, on this fascinating private walking tour, including all skip the line entrance tickets and public transport. On your private tour you will:

  • Enjoy the personalised attention of your private, English speaking expert guide.
  • Discover the oldest parts of this very modern city and learn about the rich trading families that built it. 
  • Start on the ‘Ancient Corner’ of the Qiao Family’s Road.
  • Saunter along Heavenly Light Lane – the first road in Shanghai to have public street lights.
  • Tour the Old City God Temple (tickets included) and learn about the importance of the gods to the people of Shanghai. 
  • See the public and private sides to Shanghai as you encounter traditional local communities. 
  • Explore the laneways on Anren Street and leave the tourist path behind.
  • Browse the colourful Flower and Bird Market
  • End your tour at the idyllic Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar

Shanghai is legendary as China’s largest, most highly populated, contemporary city, famous for its glamour, its massive trading port and its highrises; truly a melting pot of modern sights, smells, sounds and people. But this city has its own fascinating history and traditions – which you’ll discover on this immersive and fascinating private walking tour. 

You’ll start on ‘Ancient Corner’ – as its name suggests, it is the oldest corner of the city and part of the Qiao Family’s Road. The Qiao family was the city’s richest trading family, and this road was at the original heart of Shanghai with important temples to the Medicine God as well as the very first local government buildings. 

Next, your knowledgeable guide will lead you to ‘Heavenly Light Lane’ which was the first street in Shanghai to receive public street lights. It is said that the locals believed the light was sent from heaven to guide people home safely. The Old City Gods were and remain hugely important to the people of Shanghai – and you’ll learn all about them as you tour the Old City God Temple (skip the line tickets included). These gods are viewed as patron saints in Taoism, and the temple itself was built to protect the people of Shanghai. It enjoys a high status in the city, and there is an old saying that says ‘he who fails to reach the temple fails to reach Shanghai!’

Finally, watch the tourist crowds fade away as you head off into the laneways on Anren street to see traditional Shanghainese community living, which has disappeared in most other parts of the city. End your tour at the vibrant Flower and Bird Market and the beautiful Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar, which you can explore at your leisure. 


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