Chaotian Gong | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Chaotian Gong

Nanjing City, Jiangsu, China

Lucy Davidson

28 Apr 2021

About Chaotian Gong

Chaotian Gong or the ‘Heaven Palace’ in Nanjing is often called the Confucius Temple, having been built on the site of a former temple dating back to 390 AD and later used as a centre of learning.

The buildings which can be seen today at Chaotian Gong were actually constructed in the nineteenth century and now house a museum. This museum holds an interesting collection which includes fragments of the porcelain pagoda, the fifteenth century Ming Dynasty monument destroyed during the course of the Taiping Rebellion.

History of Chaotian Gong

The palace is located on Ye Mountain, which was, between the Spring and Autumn Period (722-481 BC) a site for metal casting during the ancient time of State of Wu during the Zhou dynasty, and then The Imperial Centre University, which was then called Zongmingguan, which was located there during the Song dynasty.

Later, Chaotian Palace (also known as Mingtian Palace), was built there as a Taoist Temple during the era of Southern Wu, the Kingdom of Wu, which marked the end of the Tang dynasty. The palace was then reconstructed as Chaotian Palace by the Hongwu Emperor during the early Ming dynasty, in the late 14th century, and was used for members of royalty for ‘veneration of ancestors.’

The complex burnt down during the Taiping Rebellion during the Qing dynasty. The existing buildings on the site were built from 1866 to 1870 when Nanking Academy moved to the site.

During the Republic of China rule, Chaotian Gong became ‘The Examination Yuan’, a Capital High Court, the Ministry of Education, as well as the Nanjing Branch of the Palace Museum.

Under the rule of the People’s Republic of China, it became the Nanjing Municipal Museum.

Chaotian Gong Today

Today, the Chaotian Palace area is the largest preserved traditional Chinese architectural complex in Jiangnan.

Visitors can enjoy wandering around the combination of ancient and more modern architecture which characterise the modern-day palace and grounds. There is a huge display of over 100,000 treasures and artefacts available within the museum, with English-language audio guides available for free from reception.

The museum is divided into different departments, with various clothes, jewels, and ornaments used by the royal family being exhibited alongside pottery, tools, weapons, and furniture.

For those who wish to deepen their knowledge of history and warfare in the area, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Museum is nearby.

Getting to Chaotian Gong

From the centre of Nanjing, the complex is reachable in around 20 minutes by car, via 王府大街 (Wangfujing Street). By foot, it takes just over an hour via the same route.

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