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
Shanghai Museum
The museum has over 120,000 pieces of ancient chinese art and is arranged in line with Feng Shui principles,
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.

Related Tours

Private Full Day Tour of Shanghai
Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’, Shanghai is steeped in culture, history and glamour in equal measure. Get to the heart of this fascinating city in our best of Shanghai full day tour.

  • Commence your tour at the iconic Jade Buddha Temple 
  • Take in your tranquil surroundings by People's Square 
  • Venture through Shanghai Old Town, and get lost in Yuyuan Garden 
  • Visit the revered Old City of God Temple 
  • 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
Temple, Museum and The Square

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 base of the Shanghai Buddhist Institute. Continue on to People’s Square. This beautiful green spacer is a hub of daily activity and you will be surrounded by other well-known attractions, such as the great Shanghai Museum. 

Old Shanghai

Your adventure moves on 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 status in Taoism.

Shanghai Today

Move on the from the traditional and learn more about Shanghai’s present as you head down to the exciting Tianzifang - the ‘Soho of Shanghai’. Then walk along 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. 
Private Half-Day Tour of Shanghai
 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. 
  • Enjoy the quietude of the iconic Jade Buddha Temple built in 1882.
  • Yield to the buzz of the city in leafy People's Square
  • Relish 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 waterfront promenade.
Beginning life as a tiny fishing village, the city now represents China’s 21st showcase of 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 and each presence has left its telltale mark on the architectural and societal character of the city. This  contrasting mix of cultures has paved the way for an 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 you see the enchanting Yuyuan Garden and the city’s historic Bazaar amidst a storied buildings of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. The 15th century Old City of God Temple is a grand place of Taoist worship while the Bund, a mesmerizing 1.5km esplanade along the Huangpu River, cafes, restaurants and chichi boutiques boast prized views of the Lujiazui skyline.
Shanghai Origins
On this fascinating historical tour, you will discover more about Shanghai’s colourful origins by visiting the famous places where it all began. 

  • Begin at the oldest corner of the city, Qiao Family’s Road
  • Walk down Heavenly Light Lane, the first street in Shanghai to receive public street lights 
  • Discover the otherworldly Grey Gardens, known as The Secluded Library 
  • Visit the beautiful Old City God Temple 
  • Discover the laneways on Anren street 
  • Conclude at the Flower & Bird Market, and the beautiful Yuyuan Garden & Bazaar 
The Ancient Corner

You will begin at the oldest corner of the city known as the Qiao Family’s Road. Named after the city’s richest trading family, this road was the heart of Shanghai where temples for the Medicine God were located as well as the first local government. 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 that the light to be sent from heaven to guide people home safely. 

The Secluded Library

After this, you will discover the otherworldly Grey Gardens, also known as ‘The Secluded Library’. It was once a lavish garden area built in the 16th century by one of the most respected scholars of the Qing Dynasty, Lu Xixiong. He wished to erect a walled library where he could retire to in peace, surrounded by beautiful literature.

Old City Gods

Discover even more about this beautiful culture at the Old City God Temple, These gods are viewed as patron saints in Taoism and the Temple itself was built for protection of the city’s people. It enjoys a high status in Shanghai and there is an old saying that says he who fails to reach the temple fails to reach Shanghai.

Finally, watch the tourist crowd 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. End your day at the Flower and Bird Market and the beautiful Yuyuan Garden and Bazaar.


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