The Chen Dejyu Shrine, (aka Chen Family Ancestral Hall) is one of the oldest Chinese buildings in Taiwan, with almost 300 years of history, dating back to the Kingdom of Tungning, built by the then chief of staff for Koxinga. It now stands almost perfectly restored building in the middle of Tainan, a monument to former times.
Soon after Koxinga conquered what is now Tainan from the Dutch in 1661, his Chief of General Staff Chen Yonghua 陳永華 (or Chen Ze 陳, scholars argue this is the same person) built this mansion, which was completed in 1644 during the Kingdom of Tungming in Taiwan or Ming Dynasty in China. Chen Yonghua's original birthplace was Haicheng County of Fujian Province. He was an important figure in the governance of the kingdom, including economic, education (including building the Tainan Confucius Temple), and legal aspects. During the Qing dynasty, the building was changed into the Chen family ancestral shrine.
The shrine faces west, and has three courtyards, two side rooms, and two shrines. Paintings on the walls were made by Chen Yufeng 陳玉峰, a famous painter and descendant of the Chen family in Tainan.
9 AM to 5PM, closed Mondays
How to get there:
By car/scooter: From Tainan train station, go southwest on provincial highway 20, then turn right on Tainan City Highway 8. Turn right on Yongfu 2nd Road and the shrine is just behind the Famous Hotel.
By bus: You can take bus 1 from the Tainan Train station to Hayashi Department store, and the shrine is about a six minute walk northwest.
Please see below:
I have been to Chen Dejyu Shrine twice, both while staying at the Famous Hotel. There was a great view of the shrine from my hotel window. I admit if I did not stay at that hotel, I would have never come here because it is tucked behind an alley so you can't see it from the main road.
The Chen Dejyu is one of the best preserved residences I have seen that is older than the Qing Dynasty. It is rare to see Ming Dynasty architecture in Taiwan at all.
At the front of the house there is a pink sign with an explanation of the history of the house in Chinese. The main deity worshiped in the house is the family founder, Chen Yonghua.
View through the front door.
Looking back at the famous hotel with a mural of what I assume is Chen Yonghua.
Traditional wooden Chinese weapons on display.
Beam supported by newer wooden brace.
Side courtyard to the left.
Side courtyard to the right, with bathrooms.
View of the brickwork on the outside.
Stones in a side room.
Old drum and a note board.
This painting by Chen Yufeng depicts a grandfather playing with his grandchildren, when he sees his grandchildren happy, he is happy. The point being that the Chen family should be happy and get along in future generations.
The main ancestral shrine.
Another painting by Chen Yufeng of a grandfather with grandchildren.
Another faded painting by Chen Yufeng.
View of the main courtyard.
Another view of the left courtyard from another direction.
Eight sided doorways connect the inner and outer courtyards. The eight sides are supposed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more of our blogs on Tainan to come!
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.