Shanghai of today is a city that has much in common with any other modern metropolis anywhere else in the world. It has been at the forefront of China’s economic expansion and has seen exponential growth in terms of both wealth and population in recent years. However, the city still retains reminders of its historical pedigree in the many Chinese temples and palaces that are to be found at different locations in the city.
The City God Temple of Shanghai is one such example, of the ancient existing side by side with the modern. This traditional Chinese temple was built in the 15th century as a monument dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan, which translates as the Gold Mountain. Jinshan is actually an island located off the coast of Shanghai which has its own individuality, in that they speak their own dialect of “Shanghainese” that is usually unintelligible to the city residents. With the expansion of the city, this area has also become enveloped in urban development and today is the home of the Shanghai Petrochemical Company.
During the Ming dynasty around the year 1403, this monument was elevated to the status of City God Temple and gained popularity among the locals as a place of worship. Many devotees considered this temple as one which brought them good luck and prosperity and soon it was a regular place of worship not only for the locals, but also for those from the surrounding precincts. As the temple grew so did the commercial activity in the area; a small market was created for the devotees and in time it grew into one of the biggest markets in the district.
Throughout the ages, the temple went through many changes architecturally as well as spiritually; some of the figures of gods that depicted the underworld were removed in 1951 and a more mainstream Taoist spirituality was encouraged. The area that surrounds this temple is one that many guests staying at a Shanghai hotel would appreciate, as it has authentic Chinese tea houses and pavilions. Guests of hotels in Shanghai such as The Langham Yangtze Boutique Shanghai would enjoy a visit to this site as it is a living reminder of the area’s fascinating past.