Great Wall of China

Night View of City God Temple            

The City God Temple or Chenghuang Miao of Shanghai forms the core of the old city of Shanghai, China. Today the "City God Temple" not only refers to the large temple complex, but also the traditional district of commerce in the city, surrounding the temple. There are over a hundred stores and shops in this area, and most of these store buildings are nearly a century old.The temple connects to the Yuyuan Garden, another landmark of the old city.

The temple is colloquially known in Shanghai as the "Old City God Temple", in reference to a later "New City God Temple", which no longer exists.

History of the City God Temple

Regardless of size, many walled cities in ancient China contained a temple dedicated to one or more immortal or god as the spirit(s) or protector(s) of the city.

The Temple of City God

Paper offering to the god

The City God Temple in Shanghai originated as the Jinshan God Temple, dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan, or "Gold Mountain", an island off the coast of Shanghai. It was converted into a City God Temple in 1403, during the Yongle era of the Ming dynasty.

During the Qing Dynasty, the temple grew popular. Residents of the old city as well as nearby areas visited the temple to pray for good fortune and peace. The temple reached its largest extent in the Daoguang era. The popularity of the temple also led to many business to be set up in the area, turning the surrounding streets into a busy marketplace.

In 1951, the Board of Trustees of the City God Temple was dissolved, and the temple was handed over to the Shanghai Taoist Association and made into a Taoist center. The institution made changes to the temple, removing statues representing folk Underworld personalities such as Yama, the judge of the dead, and placing an emphasis on Taoist spirituality instead.

During the Cultural Revolution, the temple was closed down and used for other purposes. For many years, the main hall was used as a jewellery shop. In 1994, the temple was restored to its former use as a temple, with resident Taoist priests. The Temple, together with nearby Yuyuan Garden and the surrounding streets, are now part of a large pedestrian zone dedicated to restaurants and retail.

A complete restoration of the City God Temple took place between 2005 and 2006. In October 2006 the place of worship was reopened and reconsecrated by Taoist clergymen.

The Temple of City God

Qin Yubao, the City God

The City Gods

The temple is dedicated to three city gods:
Huo Guang (? - 68 BC) was a famous Han Dynasty Chancellor. He is remembered for his role in deposing one young emperor and replacing him with another. Huo Guang was the original City God for the County of Shanghai from the Yuan Dynasty.
Qin Yubo (1295-1373) lived in Shanghai and served in the late Yuan Dynasty civil service. When the Hongwu Emperor founded the Ming Dynasty, he resisted two summons to serve at the court. He finally relented, and served in various roles including chief Imperial examiner. After his death, he was anointed City God of Shanghai by the Hongwu Emperor.
Chen Huacheng (1776-1842) was a Qing Dynasty general, responsible for the defence of Shanghai during the First Opium War. He vowed to defend the Yangtze to the death, and was killed in battle against the British.

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