Qingyan Ancient Town, Guiyang
青岩古镇 (qīng yán gǔ zhèn)
Qingyan Ancient Town is in the southern part of the city of Guiyang, Guizhou province, 29 kilometers from the city center.
It was built in the 11th year of the Hongwu emperor, Ming dynasty (AD 1378), and is one of the best-known ancient cities in Guizhou.
It covers a 3–square-kilometer area, and still has a Ming and Qing dynasty style, with some architectural characteristics. The town has more than 30 temples and clan halls, eight shrines, five garrets, three caves, one palace, and one yard, with lovely carved beams, rafters, and pillars.
It is a place where eastern and western cultures, Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Catholicism meet. In addition to the many temples in the town, there is a Christian church and a Roman Catholic church.
Qingyan Fortress was built in 1378, so it has a more than 600-year history and experienced times of refurbishment and expansion. The fortress was originally made of earth, with walls and alleys of stone added over the years.
Qingyan Ancient Town is visited not only for its antiquity but also because of its ethnic groups, who formed a unique culture over centuries.
These societies, including the Miao, Dong and Bouyei, have lived in Qingyan for centuries, creating a unique cultural fusion - one that has, with tourism, come to include haunted houses, archery ranges and palm readers.
Cobblestone streets of the town of 20,000 are lined with shops selling traditional ethnic snacks, liquor brewed in clay urns and Miao silver.
Visitors get to see these wares and also their creation. The streets are lined with townspeople sewing, hammering and pouring products that will end up on shelves.
Traditional snacks include deep-fried tofu balls and river fish, pickled trotters and iced rice noodles.
Ancient manors are adorned with prehistoric fossils, calligraphy and stone formations.
One of the more impressive structures is Longquan Temple - Qingyan's biggest - built in 1573. The 3,500-sq-m complex is divided into dozens of halls of stone formations, gardens and pools.
Visitors can also view the town by strolling atop its ancient wall.
The settlement's antiquated bulwark suggests a history of congenial diversity inside but an apprehension of outsiders.
However, today's Qingyan not only invites but also lures people from everywhere inside its gates.
Scenic spot level: AAAAA (top level)
Opening hours: 9 am to 5:30 am
Ticket price: 60 yuan ($8.65)
1. A two-day tour is suggested so that you can fully appreciate the historic elegance of the ancient town.
2. Local specialties such as stewed pig feet and tofu balls are worth trying.