Qūfù 曲阜

Just outside of Ji’nan, this small city in southwestern Shandong boasts an urban population of only 60,000, but its mighty and enduring claim to fame is that it is the hometown of Confucius, the renowned father of China’s most influential school of thought. What’s more, the city is also the residence of three treasured UNESCO World Heritage Sites, all of which are related to Confucius and his Kong family clan. The name of the city literally means “winding hill” and dates back to a small hill that was part of the city when it was the capital of the state of Lu.

The historical town center, which is surrounded by a restored Ming-era city wall and a moat, is where you’ll find Qufu’s main attractions, most of which are entirely about the king of the Kongs. In fact, many people in the town claim to be descendants of Confucius, and nearly 20% of the inhabitants have the same surname as him. His family genealogy is in its 83rd generation, and there are almost 2 million registered descendants of Confucius.

This is a city with dim prospects for any evening entertainment or even a good hotel choice. A wise traveler would do a day trip from Ji’nan or Qingdao.

The modern downtown of Qufu is located south of the historical town center, which is surrounded by a restored Ming-era city wall and a moat. The Drum Tower pinpoints the center of the walled city, and the Confucian Temple (Kǒng Miào; 孔庙), Confucian Mansion (Kǒng Fǔ; 孔府), the Confucian Cemetery (Kǒng Lín; 孔林) and the Temple of Yan Hui (Yánhuí Miào; 颜回庙) occupy large sections of the land within the wall. The Confucius Cemetery is just north of the walled city. There is also a mosque and a market in a Muslim neighborhood located just beyond the west gate.

 

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