Qufu is a city in Shandong Province, China. It is located 500 kilometers south of Beijing and is the birthplace of one of the most important philosophers in the history of mankind: Confucius. And the influence of this scholar on today’s Chinese society is still big!
A visit to Qufu is therefore mainly dedicated to Confucius. Who was this scholar and what was his body of thought? And which sights should I definitely not miss out on during my visit to this place? Discover it in this mini travel guide with the most important tips and information about Qufu…
Mini Travel Guide – Qufu, China
“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire”Confucius
History Qufu – A journey through the past
The history of Qufu as far as we know goes back to the Zhou dynasty. Not everyone will have a light on, but think of thousands of years ago. And when we discuss the birth of Confucius, the time goes back 2500 years. An overview of the most important events can be found below…
Qufu as capital of the state of Lu
During this period, the state of Lu was part of the Zhou Dynasty. The leader of Lu, Boqin, was a son of the Duke of Zhou, leader of the Zhou Dynasty. Boqin decided to make Qufu the capital of his vassal state. This place was a bit bigger than we know it now. Over a long period of time during the Zhou dynasty, Lu was one of the strongest states…
Confucius is born
Kong Qui, or the philosopher Confucius, was born more than 2500 years ago in Qufu. He would later become one of the most important philosophers of the world. His most famous work is Lunyu, or the 499 conversations of Confucius. This book contains 499 statements by the philosopher that have been preserved. It is one of the most influential works in Chinese history. During his life he is mainly on a journey to educate mankind. In 479 B.C. Confucius dies.
First Confucius temple in the world
The world’s first Confucius temple is in… Qufu. Two years after the scientist’s death, a temple is built on the spot where he lived. His grandson Kong Ji (481 B.C. – 402 B.C.), also a philosopher, has managed to spread a large part of the teachings of Confucius.
Relocation and a new name
A leap in time. In 1012 A.D. a big relocation takes place. Qufu arrives at the place where it still is today. There is also a name change. From now on Qufu will be called Xianyuan. In 1142 this change is already undone.
There is the city wall…
Meanwhile we are already in the time of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was only in the 16th century that Qufu really got its present form. A city wall was built and almost 500 years later there is still a lot to see, or restored.
Chinese Cultural Heritage
China officially places the three Kongs (see sights) on the list of Chinese heritage.
(Source photo: Plan of Confucius Temple in Qufu, “Madrolle’s Guide Books: Northern China, The Valley of the Blue River, Korea.” Hachette & Company, 1912)
Destruction during the Cultural Revolution
But during the cultural revolution, the Chinese regime considers Confucius’ teachings to be old-fashioned. 6000 statues and other artifacts are destroyed.
Unesco officially places San Kong, as the three main sights are called, on the list of important cultural heritage.
What is the thought of Confucianism?
2,500 years after his death, the thought of Confucius still lives on. Not only in China, but also in Vietnam, Singapore, Korea and Japan you will find many temples and schools dedicated to his ideas. And that while Confucius did not have the ambition to establish a new religion.
The core idea of Confucius was mainly how one should behave in life in relation to the position he or she had in life. A number of virtues were very important, such as humanity, obedience, justice, decency, loyalty and reciprocity. In this article you can read a number of wise statements by him that underline these virtues.
“When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it – this is knowledge.”Confucius
Accommodation – Where to stay in Qufu?
Qufu is not a big city. All sights are within walking distance and choosing an accommodation is no problem, either on budget or in the luxury segment. For example, for as little as 12 euros, you’ll have an excellent budget room for 2 people.
But how long do you need for this place? In principle, one night should suffice. Qufu is a quiet city, but if you want to see more, and you want that in big China then one night is more than enough.
Tip: The only hostel in the city is Qufu International Youth Hostel. This hostel is located just north of the Temple of Confucius, but also has good facilities, good beds and for breakfast and dinner there is a restaurant downstairs.
“All people are the same; only their habits differ.”Confucius
Sights – 3 sights in Qufu
The sights below all have to do with the scholar Confucius. They are also collectively on the Unesco World Heritage List under the name ‘three Kongs’. Kong was the original name of Confucius and his next of kin are all called Kong.
You can get a ticket for the three Kongs at the south gate. This is well signposted and you can’t miss it. A ticket costs 150 yuan.
1: The Confucius Temple
The largest and most important temple in honour of Confucius is of course in Qufu. Two years after his death, the inhabitants built a temple on the spot where he lived at the time. Throughout the centuries this temple has been destroyed for various reasons. It is now one of the largest temple complexes in China, covers 16,000 square meters and has a total of 460 rooms. Throughout the centuries many emperors have also visited this place to honor the great Confucius. During the Cultural Revolution of the 60’s of the last century, however, several statues were destroyed. And over the years the complex has been restored several times. Yet this remains the highlight of a visit to Qufu, although opinions are divided about it.
2: Residence of the Kong family
Next to the Temple of Confucius is the Kong Family Mansion. This was the place where descendants of Confucius lived. The present complex comes from the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911) dynasty. The last generation that lived here was Kong Decheng (1920-2008). In 1937 he fled to the south while the Second Sino-Japanese War was going on. Nowadays it is used as a museum and you can also walk through the gardens of the complex.
3: Tomb of Confucius
1.5 kilometers north of the center you will find a large forest. In this forest are all tombstones scattered throughout the park. These graves are from the many descendants of Confucius. In the middle of this forest you will find the grave of Confucius. And next to him is the grave of his grandson, Kong Ji.
“Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.”Confucius
Transportation – How to get to Qufu?
Train: If you want to make a historic stop between Beijing and Shanghai, Qufu is a good alternative. The high-speed line passes through this city, although the Qufu East Railway Station is 10 kilometers southeast of the city center. From there, take bus K01 which will take you to the city’s south gate.
On the website of Trip.com you can order train tickets. If you travel in the months July and August it could be quite busy because the Chinese go on holiday en masse. Through this website you guarantee that you have a ticket. You only have to pick it up at the ticket office of the train station. And one more disadvantage: per booking you pay 3 dollars extra at a time.
Airplane: Jining Qufu Airport is located 90 kilometers southwest of Qufu. This airport is mainly used for national flights, including from Beijing and Shanghai.
Bus: The city’s bus station is located 3 kilometers west of the city center. Buses depart from here to Jinang, the provincial capital of Shandong, which is located about 40 kilometers southwest of Qufu.
“The journey with a 1000 miles begins with one step.”Confucius
And what is your opinion about Qufu, China? If you have more tips and ideas, please feel free to leave a message below!