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History of City God Temple

City God Temple of Shanghai, also known as Chenghuang Temple or Cheng Huang Miao is located in Fangbingzhong Road, Huangpu District, one of the three largest temples of the Yangtze River delta area. Shanghai City God's Temple is a large southern style building. The main building includes the front square, the main hall, the Yuan Chen hall, the God of wealth hall, the Ci Hang Hall, the city god hall, and the goddess hall. City God's Temple, Shanghai, was first built in the Yongle period (1403-1424) in the Ming Dynasty. The front hall is dedicated to Huo Guang, the great general of the Han Dynasty. There is a memorial archway built in 1535 in front of the gate. The construction and development of City God's Temple have received the attention of the local governments in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. From the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty to the Daoguang period of the Qing Dynasty (1821-1850), the temple was constantly expanding. During the most prosperous period, it has covered more than 33000 square meters. As an important Taoist temple in Shanghai, City God Temple was destroyed during the war and closed in 1966, and rebuilt and reopened in 1994.

Shanghai City God Temple City God Hall of Shanghai City God Temple, Chenghuang Miao

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Ticket: CNY 10
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday: 08:30-16:30 (No entry after 16:00, opening from 08:30-16:30 during the major holidays)

Note: The ticket might be sold out during the peak season. Please feel free to contact us to book the tickets for you.

What Is Chenghuang?

Chenghuang, the name of city god, means the protector of the city. "Cheng" is the city, the city wall; "Huang" is the moat. "Cheng" and "Huang" are military facilities to protect the city, so the Chenghuang, the city god is the protective god of a place. The “gods” worshipped by people were usually famous officials and heroes who have contributed to the local people. As the protector of the city, the Taoists believed that the City God is to maintain fairness, uphold justice, supervise the people, punish the evil, protect and prosper the city, and eliminate disasters.

According to the records in the book of rites, the ancient emperor held a sacrifice ceremony in the lunar December to pray for good weather for the coming new year. Among the gods worshipped, there was Shuiyong God, which can be regarded as the original idea of the City God.

When City God Temple was first built in the Yongle period in Shanghai in the Ming Dynasty, its scale was still small. However, the City God, as the protective god of Shanghai City, is believed to have a close relation to all walks of people in Shanghai. By 1842, there were many major repairs and expansions in the City God Temple.

The Real “Chenghuang” During the Wartime

At the end of the Qing Dynasty, China entered a turbulent century. At that time, the City God Temple of Shanghai was repeatedly attacked by war and fire. Since 1842, the temple was difficult to maintain. In 1937, the Japanese invaded China. With the expansion of the war, the Japanese bombardment caused countless deaths and injuries to Chinese civilians. And the refugees in Shanghai had nowhere to shelter themselves under the gunfire and bombs.

However, a French Missionary, Robert Charles Emile Jacquino Besange, saved hundreds of thousands of Shanghai people. When the war spread to Shanghai in 1937, with his outstanding diplomatic and organizational skills, Robert convened a meeting between diplomats and military figures from China and Japan. After negotiation, the two sides finally reached an agreement on the establishment of a refugee area, and the military should not launch attacks on this area, saving at least 300,000 Chinese refugee's lives. In the next few years, this refugee area including City God Temple had received many homeless civilians. After the situation in Shanghai was stabilized, refugees began to leave City God Temple gradually. Until almost all the refugees left there in 1940, Robert Charles Emile Jacquino Besange returned to his homeland and passed away several years later.

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Shanghai City God Temple Shanghai City God Temple Area in the Qing Dynasty
Shanghai City God Temple Mr. Robert Charles Emile Jacquino Besange
Shanghai City God Temple The Refugee Area During the Wartime

What to See in Shanghai City God Temple

After renovations and repairs, the layout of the City God temple was basically complete, and the temple includes 12 halls, namely the Hall of Huo Guang, Yuan Chen Hall, God of Wealth Hall, the Hall of Yuelao, the Hall of the City God, the Goddess hall, the Parents Hall, the GuanSheng hall, the Wenchang Hall and the Patriarch hall, etc. The total area of City God Temple has reached about 3000 square meters.

Mountain Gate 山门照壁
It is the front gate of the City God Temple, also called “Mountain Gate”, as the early Taoist hermits built their chapels in the mountain in order to live a life of tranquility. City God Temple’s gate was built in 1535 during the Ming Dynasty. The structure of the mountain gate consists of stone pillars and timber beams. There are four golden characters. However, what you see today is a reproduction based on historical pictures, created in 1994 from which the City God Temple has once again been open to the public. 

Yi Men 仪门对联
After the mountain gate, there is another gate, “Yi Men”, meaning “ceremonial gate”. This “ceremonial gate” was the second front gate of a government office court. You can see two couplets in front of Yi Men.
The first couplets read:
To do good or to do evil, that is all up to you in the world of the living;
From the past to the present, no one escapes the judgment of death.

The Wealth God Hall 财神殿
In the Wealth God Hall, you’ll see five wealth gods. The one in the middle is Marshal Zhao, whose full name is Zhao Gongming. He wears an iron helmet on his head, a whip in one hand and a shoe-shaped gold ingot in another. Zhao is dressed in the manner of an ancient warrior. He protects fair trade. Left of Marshal Zhao is Xiao Sheng, the Treasure-Inducing God, and Cao Bao, the Treasure-Keeping God. On the sides of the hall are Messenger Chen Jiugong and Fairy Merchant Yao Shaosi. Both of these subordinates to Marshal Zhao deal with business in the human world. On January 5th of the Lunar Calendar, it is the Wealth God day, and people flood into this hall and seek the blessings for the wealth gods.

Shanghai City God Temple Mountain Gate 山门照壁
Shanghai City God Temple The Wealth God Hall 财神殿
Shanghai City God Temple Huoguang Hall 霍光殿

Huoguang Hall 霍光殿
The main deity of the grand hall is Huo Guang. Huo Guang was a government official and a politician from the Han Dynasty. Huo used to serve Emperor Wu of Han. According to the record, when the pirates attacked the Golden Mountain (the ancient name of Shanghai), the Chinese army was able to drive them away under Huo’s leading. The local residents built the temple in memory of Huo; when the temple was renamed City God Temple, people still offered sacrifices to Huo and regarded him as a city God.

In front of Huo’s statue, there are two assistant officials: the one with the white face who records the good things people have done and take charge of the good spirits; the black-faced one records the bad things people have done, taking charge of the evil ghosts.

The City God Hall 城隍殿
City God Hall faces the courtyard. In the hall, Qin Yubo of the Ming Dynasty was deified, which is why his statue is dressed in the uniform of Ming Dynasty government officials with a hat and a robe. In front of Qin’s statue, there’s a desk which you could usually find in a government in the Ming Dynasty, on which lies a brush, an inkstone, an ink bar, an official seal, and an arrow of order on top of it. Two assistants stand in front of the desk with files in their hands, ready to tend to the business of the City God. City God Qin Yubo sits in the middle of the City God Hall; on his left is the Hall for Qin’s Lady, a hall dedicated to Qin’s Lady Chu; on his right is the Parents Hall, which is dedicated to Qin’s parents.

Shanghai City God Temple Guansheng Hall 关圣殿
Shanghai City God Temple The City God Hall 城隍殿

Shanghai City God Temple Location - Where is Shanghai City God Temple

City God Temple is located in Fangbing Zhong Road (方浜中路) in Huangpu District (黄埔区) of Shanghai, close to the main tourist attractions of Shanghai, like Yu Garden, the Bund, Nanjing Road, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and so forth.

Location: 249 Fangbang Zhong Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai 上海市黄浦区方浜中路249号

Distance from other main Shanghai attractions:

For the geographic location, it is recommended to cover City God Temple and nearby attraction Nanjing Road, the Bund, Oriental Pearl TV Tower in one day.

Shanghai Attractions Map Shanghai Attractions Map

How to Get to Shanghai City God Temple

Right close to Yu Garden, City God Temple is easily reachable by bus, subway, and taxi.

By Subway: Take Subway Line 10 and get off at Yuyuan Station, and you can walk from the Yuyuan Station to City God Temple. It is just one stop from Nanjing Road to Yu Garden. And Line 10 can also take you from Yu Garden to Xintiandi and Hongqiao Railway Station.

By Bus: Take sightseeing bus No. 1, 3, 5 and get off at Chenghuang Miao, Yu Garden Stop

Attractions Around Shanghai City God Temple

Yu Garden and Bazaar

Yu Garden or Yuyuan Garden is only steps away from the City God Temple. It is also known as Yuyuan Garden (豫园), is the most celebrated classical Chinese Garden in Shanghai downtown area. It also enjoys the reputation of "the crown of beauty in Southeast China", offering charming and pleasant views. Yuyuan Bazaar is located next to Yu Garden, with beautiful Chinese architecture and design coupled with hundreds of shops selling pieces of jewelry, silk, antiques, arts, crafts, souvenirs, and local snacks.

The Bund

The Bund (外滩) is the top must-see landmark site in Shanghai. There are 52 buildings with various international architectural styles which makes the Bund “An Exhibition of International Buildings”.When the evening comes, the neon lights on both sides of the Huangpu River. Facing Lujiazui, the Bund is the best sightseeing area to roam around.

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How to Get to Shanghai: You can fly to Shanghai directly from Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, London, Los Angeles & many overseas countries (regions) and almost all major Chinese cities, like Beijing, Xian; or take high speed bullet train to Shanghai from domestic cities.

Best Time to Visit Shanghai: March to May (in spring) & September to November (in autumn), because these periods offer beautiful nature scenery and comfortable weather for outdoor sightseeing and activities.

Top Attractions to Visit in Shanghai: The Bund, Lujiazui Skyscrapers, Yu Garden, Shanghai Museum, French Concession, Shanghai Disney Resort…

Best known as an international popular tourist destination, Shanghai perfectly preserves mixed culture of the western and eastern. The duration and theme of your Shanghai tour can be flexibly arranged based on your time and interests. Usually, tourists spend 2 days on sightseeing the most famous landmarks, including the Bund, Yu Garden, skyscrapers like Shanghai Tower, World Financial Center, Former French Concession, Shanghai Museum, etc. With one extra day, you can enjoy family fun in Disneyland Park or visit Zhujiajiao Water Town in the suburb. Don't miss the Shanghai Maglev Train, wonderful nightlife and Shanghai Cuisine.

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