Within two years of the death of Confucius in 479 BCE, his former house in Qufu was quickly consecrated as a temple by the Prince of Lu. By 205 BCE, the emperor had begun offering memorial sacrifices at the temple to honor Confucius, and later emperors would visit this site after their coronation or to commemorate events. The original three-room house of Confucius was removed from the temple complex during a rebuilding undertaken in 611 CE. Later, in 1012 and in 1094, the temple was expanded into a design with four courtyards and more than 400 rooms before a couple of fires forced two massive reconstructions of the complex; and now most of the current buildings date from 1730.
After the Forbidden City in Beijing, the temple complex is the second largest historical building complex in China with a total of 460 rooms. The main buildings are the Stele Pavilions (Shísān Bēiting; 十三碑亭), the Kuiwen Hall (kuí wén gé; 奎文阁), the Apricot Platform (Xìng Tán; 杏坛), the De Mou Tian Di Arch (Démóu Tiāndì; 德侔天地), the Dacheng Hall (Dàchéng Diàn; 大成殿) and the Hall of Confucius’ Wife (Qǐn Diàn; 寝殿). In the center of the courtyard in front of Dacheng Hall stands the Apricot Platform, which commemorates the spot where Confucius gave his first legendary lecture. Each year at Qufu a ceremony is held on September 28 to commemorate Confucius’ birthday.
The current structures of the Kong Family Mansion mainly date from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, though the first was built in 1038. Bestowed an emperor’s share of rights and privileges, the Kong family protected and cared for the Confucian sites and governed the largest and most luxurious private estate in China. They had a massive contingent of servants who cooked them 180-course meals and had powers of not only taxation but also execution. In 1503 the massive complex was expanded further into three rows of buildings with 560 rooms and nine courtyards. Today, the mansion works as a fascinating museum on the life of Confucius and the Kong family.
Cemetary of Confucius
Just 2 km (1.2 mi) north of town on Lindao Lu, the Cemetery of Confucius is also known as the Confucius Forest for its cohort of hundreds of peaceful cypress trees. It is both the largest artificial park and the best preserved ancient cemetary in China. It is here that the sage Confucius himself (as well as countless generations of his descendants) are buried. In addition to the tomb of Confucius, there are a number of sculptures from the Ming and Qing Dynasties decorating the tomb sites, and they are constantly filled with an endless stream of tour groups following the colored flags of their leaders.