Amsterdam's China Town is home to a Chinese Buddhist temple called Fo Guang Shan He Hua (or the Zeedijk Tempel, after its location)
He Hua means "lotus flower," a prominent Buddhist symbol of enlightenment because it grows from the mud yet its petals bloom pristinely above it all. Fo Guang Shan is the Buddhist sect to which the temple belongs.
History of Chinese Buddhist Temple
The temple cost 9 million guilders (4.1 million euros) to build, 6 million of which was donated by the Fo Guang Shan organization and the remainder by businessmen and other private donors. It was completed in 2000 and dedicated in person by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.
What to See at Chinese Buddhist Temple
He Hua Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Europe built in the traditional Chinese style, yet it seems small and tranquil. The entrance gate is in the traditional style: a large central opening usually reserved for monks and nuns and two side entrances for laymen. The three gates symbolize the three jewels (or three refuges) of Buddhism: the Buddha, the dharma (teaching) and the sangha (monastic community).
Inside, the temple consists of an open-plan room with a central shrine to Avalokitesvara, a bodhisattva of compassion who has vowed to help others to enlightenment. Avalokitesvara is a female deity known as Kwan Yin in the Chinese tradition. She has multiple hands that make symbolic gestures and hold symbolic objects. Kwan Yin is flanked by two statues of Wei Tuo en Qie-Lan, the legendary protectors of the Dharma and the temple. Visitors can purchase and offer incense or piece of fruit at the shrine.
Another shrine is dedicated to the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni. Nearby are two pagodas with illuminated niches containing hundreds of tiny Buddha statues. The repetition of the images symbolize the universal Buddha nature that is present everywhere.
The walls are covered in plaques with reliefs of Kwan Yin and inscriptions naming the donors who funded the construction of the temple. On the right side wall is a small museum of Buddha images and other artifacts.
In addition to this main hall, a level below has a Jade Buddha Shrine and the complex also includes a meditation hall, a hall for honoring ancestors, a meeting room, classrooms, a library, a dining room and bedrooms.
Quick Facts on Chinese Buddhist Temple
|Names:||Chinese Buddhist Temple|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||52.373750° N, 4.900074° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Chinese Buddhist Temple|
- Personal visit (November 2006)
- FGS He Hua Amsterdam - official website
- China Town, Amsterdam - Virtual Tourist
Map of Chinese Buddhist Temple
Below is a location map and aerial view of Chinese Buddhist Temple. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.