One of the best FREE things to do in Amsterdam’s Chinatown is to visit the Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple! Fo Guang Shan is an international Chinese Buddhist monastic order based in Taiwan. In Mandarin Fo means Buddha, Guang means light and Shan means mountain. He Hua is the temple’s name. He means lotus and Hua means flower.
This ‘lotus flower’ Buddhist temple was officially opened on 15 September 2000 by Her Majesty Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands at that time. It is the largest temple in Europe, but the façade looks deceivingly small.
Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple welcomes everyone. Walk up the stairs to the main hall where you will find Kuan Yin‘s altar, Bodhisattva of Compassion, together with the statues of Wei Tuo and Qie-Lan, legendary protectors of the Dharma and the temple. Feel free to walk around, take a few photos, ask questions or purchase some books. If you like, ask the friendly staffs for an incense to pray. Everyone is allowed to experience this! You will not be converted!!
On your way out, pick a piece rolled paper out of the oracle box right next to the red donation box. This cost €0.50. It is a lottery poetry, translated into English, to provide guidance about one self. Interpreting such poetical text usually keeps me pondering the whole day. I never get it.
In any case, do make your donation as the temple relies on visitors’ contribution to fund maintenance projects and everyday expenses.
A visit to Fo Guang Shan He Hua Temple should take about 10 minutes. There is only one hall accessible to public. I have yet to do this, but I heard about the guided tours for individuals given every Saturday at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm, which last approximately 45 minutes. Prices are €5.00 per person and €2.50 if you are a student. Additional meditation sessions can be arranged for extra fees. No reservation required. Group tours can be arranged in advance too. http://ibps.nl/rondleiding/
So, if you have never been inside a Buddhist temple or curious about Buddhism or looking for a FREE thing to do while in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, go on inside. Everyone is invited.
Address: Zeedijk 106-118. 1012BB Amsterdam.
Opening Hours: Tue- Sat 12pm – 5pm and Sun 10am – 5pm. Closed on Mondays and 1st January.