The Mengjia Longshan Temple 艋舺龍山寺 is one of the most popular and famous historic sights in Taipei, probably mentioned in every brochure and travel guide about the city. It was built in 1738 by Fujianese settlers, which makes it one of the oldest buildings in the city. Truth is, the temple was damaged many times over the last three centuries and completely destroyed by Americans, who heavily bombed Taipei in 1945. But locals always managed to collect funds and rebuilt the temple, which is located at the heart of Wanhua, the oldest part of Taipei. The same happened after the temple's darkest hour, it was rebuilt few months after the war. The Longshan Temple is definitely a must-see site for every visitor in Taipei, especially for those who want to experience the Taipei it once was a few centuries ago. You can still feel a little bit of that atmosphere in the area.
Let me share some pictures with you from March 2010:
My girlfriend told me, that a street nearby used to be Taipei's red light district. Yep, I was surprised, too. You wouldn't assume there will be one near a prominent temple, but apparently that was the case until the late 1990s, when they banned prostitution here. So if she and I would walk here hand in hand, people might assume I am *cough and she is *cough. No, probably not. There's been some talk about legalizing prostitution again (read here), but it has yet to be seen how open the lawmakers want to deal with this issue.
When I went inside, I was a bit hesitant to take photos, but then I saw others taking them and I made few myself. The temple is not too big, but not small either. It's very colorful and full of ornaments, most noticeable are the dragons on the roof.
After spending some time inside, I went out and explored the area. A lot of elders hang out here, partly because of the temple, partly because the area is famous for traditional food and markets.
There are two other famous night markets close to the temple, such as the Huaxi Street Night Market and the Guangzhou Street Night Market. The temple is very easy to find, because an MRT station is located very near. Go out at Exit 1 and turn right.
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