Old City God Temple (Laochenghuangmiao)is a major yet relatively inactive, Taoist temple in Shanghai. It is located in the area south of Yan,an Road on the Fangbang Zhong Road.
During the Ming Dynasty, Zhangshouyue, the head of Shanghai County, dedicated a temple to the local city god. Since then, the City God,s Temple has been destroyed several times and the current temple was built in 1926.
During the the war of resistance against Japanese invasion during World War II, local merchants built a new City God,s Temple in the Foreign Concession (between Lianyun Road and West Jinling Road).
That area is now a highrise residence building. The "former" temple is known as the Old City God,s Temple. The Old City God,s Temple and the enclose Yuyuan are not only famous tourist sites but also popular shopping attractions. There are boutiques, shops selling local specialties, as well as large jewelry stores, department stores and fabulous local snack restaurants to be found here.
Shanghai,s Town God Temple
Regardless of size, many walled cities in ancient China contained a temple dedicated to one or more immortal or god as the spirit(s) or protector(s) of the city.
The City God Temple in Shanghai originated as the Jinshan God Temple, dedicated to the spirit of Jinshan, or "Gold Mountain", an island off the coast of Shanghai. It was converted into a City God Temple in 1403, during the Yongle era of the Ming dynasty.
During the Qing Dynasty, the temple grew popular. Residents of the old city as well as nearby areas visited the temple to pray for good fortune and peace. The temple reached its largest extent in the Daoguang era. The popularity of the temple also led to many business to be set up in the area, turning the surrounding streets into a busy marketplace.
In 1951, the Board of Trustees of the City God Temple was dissolved, and the temple was handed over to the Shanghai Taoist Association that converted it into a Taoist center. The institution made changes to the temple, removing statues representing folk Underworld personalities such as Yama, the judge of the dead, and placing an emphasis on Taoist spirituality instead.
During the Cultural Revolution, the temple was closed down and used for other purposes. For many years, the main hall was a jewellery shop. In 1994, the temple was restored to its former use as a temple, with resident Taoist priests. The Temple, together with nearby Yuyuan Garden and the surrounding streets, are now part of a large pedestrian zone dedicated to restaurants and retail.
The present structure was re-built in the 1930s during the Republic of China era in the traditional style, following two fires that destroyed the building. The main halls, however, are built with reinforced concrete.
A second complete restoration took place between 2005 and 2006. In October 2006 the place of worship was reopened and reconsecrated by Taoist clergymen.