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The Chen Ancestral Shrine is known as Chen Clan Academy and is located at the Zhongshan Road. It is a cultural relic and an important site built during the reign of Guangxu Emperor with donations collected from Chen family members living in 72 counties in the Guangdong Province.
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Chen Ancestral Shrine had been organized by 2 Chinese Americans that had wanted to create an academy for Chen Clan students in Guangzhou. The site had been built during the Qing Dynasty and had been converted into a museum in the year 1957. The traditional decorations, architecture and artwork are so valuable that the site had been named as a National Cultural Heritage Protection Unit in 1988. Today it is one of the best highlights of the area and a folk art museum.
During the late Qing Dynasty, a man called Chen stood third in the most important imperial examination. This provided him with a very distinguished office title, making the Chen family very well known in the area. Later someone suggested that all family members should raise money for building a temple for sacrificing to their ancestors as well as encouraging their children to study hard. The temple was therefore built in 1894 with money donated from Chen family members located in 72 different counties in Guangdong Province as well as various overseas members.
Chen Ancestral Shrine is a Chinese traditional academic complex. It is quite fascinating to observe the kind of intricate artwork that is done on everything. The roof has eleven ceramic ridge crests looking like dragons that lie on the roof. The stone handrails have iron castings. These castings are then engraved with beautiful and delicate pictures and designs. There are various different themes of pictures such as Goldfish in the Pond, Three Goats, Orbs and Dragons and Qilin and Phoenix. Several very skilled craftsmen put in a lot of work to create the wonderful decorations and artwork.
The building of Chen Ancestral Shrine is spread over an area of 13,200 square meters. It has nineteen buildings along with 6 courtyards and 9 halls that are connected symmetrically. All of these are connected by various corridors and are separated from the outside with walls. There is a pair of drums located by the entrance, measuring 8.36 feet height as well as two beautiful drawings of the door god. These are known to be the best in the province.
The compound has been constructed in a traditional symmetrical style. Juxian Hall is it’s main hall and is located in the center. The Juxian Hall had once been a place for the clansmen for assembling before the temple had been established. It was later used as the ancestral hall. There is a beautiful stone gazebo located in front of this hall. The gazebo is also surrounded by gorgeous stone balustrades. The hall has a beautifully carved folding screen showcasing the excellent woodcarving that has been done on this building.
Other than Chen Ancestral Shrine, there are various other attractions in the area such as the underground mall at Kangwang Road as well as the garden park located east of Chen Ancestral Shrine.