Chaotian Palace

Two kilometers (1.24mi) from Nanjing city center, Chaotian Palace is the highest-grade, largest-scale and the best-preserved ancient complex in South China with a total area of about 40,000m2 (47,840sq yd). Its name, Chaotian, meaning worship the gods and the name was given by the founding emperor of Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644 AD), Zhu Yuanzhang. The Chaotian Palace is now the site of the Nanjing Municipal Museum.
Map of Nanjing Chaotian Palace
Map of Chaotian Palace

Chaotian Palace in History

The history of Chaotian Palace dates back 2,500 years. During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), King of Wu opened metallurgy workshops to make weapons and built Ye city here on Ye Hill, Ye meaning melting in Chinese. In 1384, in the Ming Dynasty, the government rebuilt and renamed the place as Chaotian Palace. It was the biggest and most famous Taoist Temple in Nanjing at that time, covering over 200,000m2 (239,000sq yd), with hundreds of rooms and halls. In 1866 the official of Jiangsu and Jiangxi Province, converted the Taoist temple into a Confucian Temple.

In 1978, Nanjing Municipal Museum was set up in the palace, with a collection of more than 80,000 items. Visitors wishing to learn about the history of Nanjing are recommended to go here.

Architectures with Ming and Qing Features in Chaotian Palace

The major existing buildings of Chaotian Palace complex from south to north include the Maninsan Wall, Pan Pond, two stone archways, a Dismount Monument, Lingxing Gate, Dacheng Gate, Dacheng Hall, Chongsheng Hall, Jingyi Pavilion, Feiyun Pavilion, and Imperial Stele Pavilion.

The Maninsan Wall stands beside the Yundu Canal, with a total length of almost 100m (about 109yd). Its name Maninsan Wall is inscribed on its south side, glorifying Confucian’s knowledge and morality.

Pan Pond is a semicircle pond to the north of the Maninsan Wall. In the past it was connected with the Yundu Canal outside the wall. However during the World War II it was filled in but in 1970, the pond was dug out again although it is no longer connected to the canal.

Two stone memorial archways on the eastern and western sides of the Maninsan Wall both have three small arches and a four-character stele written by Zeng Guofan, a high-ranking official in late Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911 AD). The eastern one has “De Pei Tian Di” on it, meaning morality and the western one has “Dao Guan Gu Jin” on it, both meaning Confucian has the noblest morality in the whole history of China.

There used to be a dismount monument outside each archway but only the western one remains. It says officials, army and common people should dismount here.

Lingxing Gate is the formal front gate of the palace; its name means the God of Literature. It comprises of four pillars and three gates. Behind Lingxing Gate is the first row of rooms, used for officials to rest and eat during the Confucius Memorial Ceremony and to store tablets and offerings for the ceremony. There are four stone lions in front of and behind the gate, each with a different posture.

Dacheng Gate, also called Ji Gate, is of 29m (31.7yd) wide at the north of Lingxing Gate with three entrances. Formally, the middle entrance was for the emperor and the left and right entrances were for princes. Officials were only allowed to use the side doors, Jinsheng and Yuzhen, beside Dacheng Gate.

The splendid Dacheng Hall is the major building of palace. It has double-layer eaves and gable and hip roof, covering the area of about 800m2 (957sq yd). This hall has a spacious terrace in front and giant wooden pillars around. In the center of the stairs are reliefs of Chinese dragons, demonstrating the authority and magnificence. And to the west of Dacheng Hall is the main exhibition hall of Nanjing Municipal Museum.

To the north of Dacheng Hall is Chongsheng Hall, having similar style to Dacheng Hall. It was used to store shrines for ancient sages.

To the north of the palace is the Jingyi Pavilion. This is an octagonal pavilion dedicated a monument of a proverb written by Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820AD) demanding the abidance to the Confucian ethics.

The beautiful two storied Feiyun Pavilion has a seal script stele on it written by a Qing literati.

The Imperial Stele Pavilion has a rare stone stele in it on which are five poems by Emperor Qianlong composed during his visits to the palace on five occasions between 1757 and 1784.

Exhibitions inside Chaotian Palace

Chaotian Palace is currently where Nanjing Municipal Museum is located, which has more than 80,000 items in its collection. Its basic exhibition, The History of Nanjing City, is located in the Huju Longpan Hall beside the Dacheng Hall. The exhibition is divided into five historical sections, showing the major events and important figures in Nanjing over the past 2,500 years or more. Other exhibits include Chaotian Palace History Exhibition in the west wing room of Dacheng Hall, Song Dynasty (960-1279AD) and Ming Dynasty Costume Culture Exhibition in Chongsheng Palace, and Jadeware and Porcelain Exhibition.

How to Get to Chaotian Palace

Stop Bus No.
Mochou Road Chaotiangong Station 4, 48, 83, y4 night
Wangfu Avenue Chaotiangong Station 43, 302, 306
Chaotiangong East Street Station 317
 Nanjing Bus / Metro Search
Admission Fee CNY25
Free for visitors under 18 years old
Opening Hours 9:00-18:00
Stop selling tickets at 17:00

 Nearby Attractions:
  Mochou Lake Park

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