Five Celestial Shrine is one of the historic sites verifying the origin of the names “the City of Goats”, and “the City of Rice Panicles.” In Guangzhou legend, it’s said that during the reign of King Zhou Yi (9 BC), five celestials, or gods, road goats bearing rice down to the city. They gave the rice to the local people with their good wishes for no more famine and a good harvest. Then the gods rose into the sky and the five goats turned into stone sculptures. In order to commemorate the event, a temple was built and a statue was made of the gods and their goats inside as a shrine to be honored by the local people.
Over the centuries, this shrine has undergone extensive repair and renovation and the temple had to be reconstructed in 1377. Its rear hall is one of the few Ming Dynasty style palace halls still standing in Guangzhou. To its east is a site where there is believed to be the footprint left behind by one of the gods as they rose into the sky. Behind the hall is the First Tower of Lingnan, the only Ming Dynasty campanile remaining in the city. At the top of the tower is a 5-ton bronze bell cast in 1378, which is also the largest bell in all of Guangdong province. 14 stone tablets from as far back as the Song Dynasty are preserved in the shrine.