Temples symbolize the long history and rich culture of China, and are regarded as valuable art treasures. There are many different religions in China, such as the Buddhism, Christianity and Islam introduced from other regions, as well as Taoism and Confucianism, the native-born religions. Of course, temples or houses of worship of different religions differ. Buddhist temples include a temple, pagoda and grotto, which are called Si, Ta, and Shiku in Chinese respectively. Taoist architecture is variously called Gong, Guan or An in Chinese. Confucian temples, such as Kong Miao, Yonghe Lamasery (Harmony and Peace Palace Lamasery) and the Temple of Heaven are called Miao, Gong, or Tan in Chinese. An Islamic house of worship is referred to as a Mosque. Christian churches have also added some Chinese flavor to them.
Chinese temples are well kept cultural artifacts of every dynasty. And temple culture has influenced every aspect of Chinese people's life such as painting, calligraphy, music, sculpture, architecture, temple fairs, folk-customs and many others. The following are typical religious architectural styles in China.
The European churches often use complicated spire, arched domed roof and stained glass window to convey religious morals. Every detail of the buildings tries with intentions to express the opposite of the Promised Land in Heaven and miserable world on Earth. However, in a different way, Chinese temples want to express the concept of the integration of heaven and humanity, that is, human beings is a part of nature. Followed by this idea, many Chinese temples actively embrace themselves into nature. The building integrated with nature is exactly the embodiment of the integration of heaven and humanity. This is to explain why many Chinese temples are located in mountains and forests.
What's more, like a beautiful picture which makes up of lines of different lengths and thicknesses, Chinese temples uses various pillars, beams and arches interlaced with each other to compose an architecture complex. Each building doesn't stand alone, for example, the hall of Mahavira should stand out against the mountain forests and side halls to highlight its elegance and artistic conception.
In addition, it is learned that the space awareness reflected in Chinese temples is different from that in European churches. In order to make people feel small and helpless compared to the powerful lord, European churches emphasize on huge and enclosed space. But Chinese temples give people the feeling of harmonious environment and comfortable life when they stroll in the changeable and complicated buildings. The spirit of entering the mortal world is encouraged when practice religious services.