Shanxi Province, China

By | July 19, 2022

The history of Shanxi Province goes back over 3,000 years. Convenient transport links make it easy to get to any part of the province not only by air, but also by land transport.

Taiyuan is the capital of Shanxi Province. The history of the city has 2500 thousand years, so there are a huge number of cultural monuments and ancient buildings around it. The largest monument in Taiyuan is the Jin Temple, which is under state protection and is of national importance. National treasures also include the Temple of Twin Pagodas, Chongshan Temple with a collection of sacred manuscripts from the Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties, a city gate with a tower.

According to Ebizdir, Pingyao ancient city (Pingyao) originated in the center of Shanxi province 2700 years ago. In December 1997, Pingyao was listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site. According to UNESCO, the ancient city of Pingyao is an outstanding example of a traditional Chinese city of the Ming and Qing dynasties, preserving all the features of classical Chinese urban planning and a historical demonstration of the extraordinary development of culture, society, economy and religion.

The ancient city of Pingyao, which has survived to this day, covers an area of ​​2.25 km 2. Like all traditional Chinese cities, Pingyao is rectangular in plan and surrounded by a fortress wall. The city wall of Pingyao, about 10 meters high, is made of rammed earth and lined with black brick. In the upper part, the width of the wall reaches 3 – 6 m, here you can easily line up 6 horses. Every 40 – 100 m of the wall, external semicircular watchtowers were built. Their jagged edge with vertical slots served as a loophole, from here they conducted observation and archery. Below were stored weapons, provisions and fodder for horses. In the break between duty, guards rested here. In total, there are 3,000 embrasures in the city wall – according to the number of students of the great sage Confucius. 72 teeth symbolize 72 sages from among the disciples of Confucius.

At the southeastern point of the city wall rises the Kuixinglou Tower. Behind the wall, a river flows around the city, inside the wall there is the city itself with streets and lanes, buildings of government offices and private houses, as well as places of worship. The configuration of Pingyao resembles a turtle – the Chinese symbol of longevity. Of the six city gates, two lie on the central axis “south-north”, four – on the axis “east-west”. The configuration of the southern gate resembles the head of a turtle, the northern gate – the tail of a turtle. The northern gate is located at the lowest point of the city, where the city drain passes. The symmetrically located eastern and western gates are “tortoise legs”. Both pairs of gates are reinforced with an additional semicircular defensive wall. The central axis of Pingyao is the wide South Street, on which the most important buildings of the city are symmetrically located. On the left side – the Wenmiao Temple (Temple of the Wise) and the Chenghuangmiao Temple (Temple of the Guardian of the City), on the right side – the Wumiao Temple (Guanyu Temple) and the Xianya Building (County Order). These three temples were intended for the ritual of sacrifices to the canonized sage Confucius, the deity guarding the city and the legendary general Guanyu. On the central axis there is also an 18.5 m high city tower, which serves as a symbol of Pingyao. guarding the city and the legendary general Guanyu. On the central axis there is also an 18.5 m high city tower, which serves as a symbol of Pingyao. guarding the city and the legendary general Guanyu. On the central axis there is also an 18.5 m high city tower, which serves as a symbol of Pingyao.

Currently, 3,797 “siheyuan” city estates remain in the ancient city, over 400 of them have been preserved in their original form. Along with the ancient city of Pingyao, the Zhengguosi Monastery (Guardian of Peace and Peace of the State) and the Shuanglinsi (Double Forest) Monastery were included in the World Cultural Heritage List. Located 15 km northeast of the city, Zhengguosi Monastery dates back to the 10th century. The main attraction of the monastery is the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, one of the most ancient wooden structures in China. To this day, the hall is decorated with the rarest examples of painted sculpture. Shuanglinsi Monastery, with a history of 1,400 years, is located 6 km southwest of Pingyao. The monastery is reputed to be the “treasury of ancient Chinese painted sculpture” with 1,566 sculptures.

Datong – the second largest city of Shanxi. It is one of the important cultural and historical cities in China. It was the capital of the Northern Wei dynasty and the “second capital” during the Liao and Jin dynasties. The city played an important military-strategic role and was also a place of lively exchange between the Hans and northern nationalities. The mountain landscapes, a section of the Great Wall, places of worship and other monuments of Datong are well known.

The Yungang Cave Temples were carved into the slopes of Mount Wuzhou, about 16 km west of Datong City. There are about 51,000 sculptures of various sizes in 53 caves and 1,100 small niches. The construction of the Yungang temples began in the second year of the reign of Emperor Xing-An of the Northern Wei Dynasty, but all the largest caves were created during the Heping period during the reign of Emperor Wencheng of the Northern Wei Dynasty (460-465). The largest of the sculptures reaches a height of 17 m, and the smallest does not exceed a few centimeters. All figures are very skillfully made. Most impressive are the five earliest caves. Human images from a later period are of excellent proportions and are thought to mark the emergence of the “School of the Slender and Beautiful Figures”. The cave temples of Yungang hold an important place in the history of art. Their sculptures are a continuation and development of the artistic achievements of the Qin and Ming dynasties, and also testify to the borrowing of foreign techniques. The cave temples have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Si) is located 75 km from Datong near the city of Hunyuan. The monastery, which is over 1400 years old, is carved into sheer cliffs above the Jinlong Canyon. It has more than 40 halls and pavilions, all of them are built right on a sheer cliff using the slightest natural recesses and supported by wooden beams. The buildings are connected to each other by a system of corridors, walkways and bridges.

In the vicinity of Datong, you can see a group of mud volcanoes, which includes more than 30 volcanoes of various shapes. This area is called the Chinese “coal sea”. Non-working mountain mines located in the area have also been turned into a tourist site. In the mines you can get acquainted with the process of coal mining. On the outskirts of Datong, you can also see a section of the Great Wall of China, which in the past served as the border between the two states.

Mount Wutai, located in the northeast of the province, is a sacred mountain for Buddhists. It is a valuable object of natural, cultural and historical heritage, and the buildings in the area are an example of classical Chinese architecture. The construction of Buddhist temples on the mountain began in the Eastern Han era, and 48 of them can be seen today.

Shanxi Province, China