Taipei Confucius Temple (台北孔廟)
Taipei's Confucius Temple (台北孔廟) located in the city's Da-Tong district (大同區) was originally built during the Qing Dynasty, later destroyed and then rebuilt in 1930. It is the only Confucius temple in Taiwan (of which there are many) that has Fujian-style ceramic adornments. It was modelled off of the Qufu Confucius temple (山東曲阜孔廟) in China's Shandong Province.
Confucius temples tend to be uniform in their simplicity - Unlike the beauty of Taiwanese folk temples and Daoist temples found throughout Taiwan - Confucius temples stand alone in their almost "zen-like" nature in that they don't have shiny gold or bronze decorations, paintings all over the walls and hundreds of thousands of sticks of incense incense burning creating a haze throughout the temple.
The simplicity exhibited in Confucius temples throughout China, Hong Kong and Taiwan is meant to be a show of respect to Confucius and the importance of his philosophical views of education and his importance to Chinese culture.
The Taipei Confucius temple is generally not a very busy temple. There are sparse groups of visitors throughout the day and the temple really only experiences massive crowds of people on Teacher's Day (September 28th)
If you visit, you are free to enjoy the temple and the park next to it - There is a tourist information bureau just outside the temple that will provide information about the temple in several different languages.
Taipei Dalongdong Bao-An Temple (大龍峒保安宮)
Next to Taipei's Confucius temple is the Dalongdong Bao-An Temple (大龍峒保安宮) or just "Bao-An Temple" is arguably one of the busiest and most beautiful folk-religion temples in Taiwan.
The temple was awarded "level two" status as a National Historic site in Taiwan, it is recognized by UNESCO for its conservation of cultural heritage and Lonely Planet lists the temple was one of the "must-visit" sites in Taiwan.
The shrine was originally founded in 1760 and the temple started construction around 1805 making the present building well over 200 years old.
There are many shrines in the temple but the principal figure is Baosheng Dadi, who is regarded in traditional culture as a god of medicine or healing.
Bao-An temple is always a busy place with people visiting at all times throughout the day to pray. The temple is busiest however during the Baosheng Festival which falls between April and May each year and lasts for several weeks.
Bao-An Temple wins most of its accolades from its attention to detail and the beautiful art contained within the temple. The original builders spent a considerable amount of money contracting the best artisans in the country at the time to help decorate the temple. If you are a fan of traditional art, Bao-An temple really is an excellently preserved museum to showcase the rich cultural history of Taiwan and the immigrants who moved here.
Apart from the artistic aspects of the temple, the majority of people who visit are visiting for the sole purpose of praying to its principal deity Baosheng Dadi (保生大帝) or "Life Protection Emperor", a ninth century doctor from Fujian Province who is revered for his healing powers. Taiwanese visitors to the temple visit to pray to ask for good health and recovery from illness.
While Taipei's Confucius Temple is renowned for its simplicity and its next-door neighbour Bao-An temple is known for pretty much the opposite - both temples provide a very good snapshot of Taiwanese culture and cultural aspects of life that were imported from neighbouring China. A visit to Taipei should definitely include both temples. They are easily accessible and don't require a lot of time to visit.
Getting to Taipei's Confucius Temple and Bao-An temple is very easy. Take the Taipei MRT to Yuanshan Station (圓山捷運站) and follow the signs that will lead you in the direction of the temples. It is about a five minute walk to the temples from the station.