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Nansha Tin Hau Palace (Nansha Mazu Temple)

Facing the Lingdingyang (Lingding Ocean), the mouth of the Pearl River, Nansha Tin Hau Palace is a mazu temple on the southeastern slope of the Dajiao Mountain in Guangzhou City and covers about 100 hectares (247.1 acres). The architecture combines both the style of the Forbidden City in Beijing and the sublimity of Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum in Nanjing. It is the largest palace compound of its category in the world. It is reputed as the 'First Tin Hau Palace under Heaven' and the biggest Mazu Temple in southeastern Asia.

It was built to worship the Goddess of sea, also called Mazu (or Tianhou in Chinese, literally meaning Heavenly Empress) by the people, whose real name is Linmo (960-987). There are many touching stories about her helping people in shipwrecks, so she was thought to be the incarnation of the goddess of sea and was paid homage by over 100 million believers in more than twenty countries.

This palace was first built in the Ming Dynasty, then was renovated during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1737-1795) in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), but was later ruined. The one we see now was rebuilt in 1994 and completed in 1996.

When you arrive there, you will first reach the Tin Hau Square which covers an area of 1.5 hectares (about 3.7 acres). At the center of the square stands a huge statue of the Goddess. The statue faces the Lingdingyang and is about 14.5 meters (about 47.6 feet) high, made of 365 pieces of granite. It symbolizes that mazu could bless fishermen and bring favorable weather for the whole year.

Behind the square is the memorial archway, on which the name of the palace is written over the top, and some inscriptions written on both sides. Once you have gone through it, you will come to the main gate where honored the statues of two legendary immortals, Clairvoyance (thousand-mile eye) and clairaudience (wind-accompanying ear).

Walking up the flagged path after entering the gate, you will come to the Hall of Blessing where a statue of the heavenly empress is honored. She is guarded by four Dragon Kings (the Gods of the sea) holding up a jade tablet and standing at each side. Then comes the Main Hall, the center of the whole palace. In the hall, two statues of the Goddess are honored in a shrine. One is 3.8 meters (about 12.5 feet) high, plated and carved from the fragrant sandalwood. The other is known as 'soft-body' statue, whose hand and foot joints are movable. The entire Main Hall is filled with a sense of benevolence and majesty, rectitude and holiness. Behind it is the Resting Hall, the living room of the Goddess, where a sitting sculpture of the goddess is displayed together with some simple instruments of her daily life.

At the very back of the palace is the Nanling Tower, an 8-storey building. It rises to a height of 45 meters (about 148 feet) and is the highest point of the whole palace. There is an unwritten folklore spread widely among Chinese people that the code of a God is singular, while that of a Goddess is plural. Because of that, the number of all stories, steps and tiles there is plural.

In addition, there are seven forts together called Dajiao Mountain Forts in the palace, which have been listed as national priority cultural relic protection sites in 1982. Additionally, the Free Life Pond is also worth a visit, where tourists could set free small creatures. Every year, this place attracts a lot of visitors by its charming scenic beauty and classical buildings. It definitely deserves a visit on your trip to Guangzhou.

Transportation:
By Bus:
Take the Nansha Special-route Bus at Guangzhou Bus Station or Panyu Bus Station and get off at Nansha Bus Station. Then take Nansha bus no.5, get off at Zhujiang Middle Road Station and take bus no.4 to the East Gate of Tin Hau Palace. Or get off at Nansha Primary School Station and take bus no. 54 to its final bus station.

By Subway:
Take Subway Line 4, get off at Jinzhou / Jiaomen Station and then take Nansha bus no.4 to the East Gate of Tin Hau Palace.
 Guangzhou Bus / Subway Search
 
Admission Fee: CNY 20
Opening Hours: 08:30 to 18:00