Perched in the hills near the Taipei Zoo, Chih Nan Temple was founded in 1882, making it one of the oldest in the country. As with many of Taipei’s temples, Chih Nan blends Taoist, Confucianist and Buddhist traditions within its four main halls and five smaller halls.
The temple’s main deity, Patriarch Lu, thought to dwell within one of the temple’s courtyards, was a Confucian scholar who became honored as the immortal Deliverer from Poverty. You’ll see many families bringing their young children to the temple, as offering a child as a foster son or daughter of Patriarch Lu is thought to help cure their ills.
A visit to the Chih Nan Temple makes a good excuse to escape Taipei for a morning or afternoon, and you’ll get to witness local Taiwanese practicing their religion firsthand in one of the city’s most visually impressive temples.
Be prepared to climb to access the temple, as it’s known for having a staircase of 1,000 steps, though in reality there are closer to 1,200. Alternately, you can ride the Maokong Gondola from the Taipei Zoo and get off at the Chih Nan Temple station. If you choose to climb on foot, local legend says you’ll live an extra 20 seconds per step.