Streets and laneways hold residences and businesses in the Ancient City of Pingyao. [Photo/VCG]
The Ancient City of Pingyao is a well-preserved 14th-century-style county-level city in Pingyao, central Shanxi province. The area comprises three main sections: the part within the walls of Pingyao, Shuanglin Temple (which lies 6 kilometers southwest of the county seat), and Zhenguo Temple (12 kilometers northeast of the county seat).
Over 225 hectares, the Ancient City of Pingyao building complex includes 6.4 km of walls, streets and lanes, holding shops, temples and more than 4,000 dwellings. The town's layout reflects developments in Han architecture and urban planning over more than five centuries.
From the 19th century to the early 20th century, Pingyao was a national financial center and home to China's first draft bank, the Rishengchang Exchange Shop. Nearly 4,000 existing shops and traditional dwellings, grand and ornate almost to the last, have born witness to Pingyao's economic growth over a century.
The Ancient City of Pingyao still retains the historic form of the county-level cities established by the Han people in Central China between the 14th and 20th centuries.
Shuanglin Temple, with more than 2,000 pieces from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, is regarded as an "oriental art gallery of painted sculptures". Wanfo Shrine, the main shrine at Zhenguo Temple, which dates back to the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907-960), is one of China's earliest and most precious historic timber buildings.
The Ancient City of Pingyao retains all the features of a Han city, provides a comprehensive view of China's cultural, social, economic and religious development, and is an indispensible tool for studying the social forms, economic structures, military systems, religious beliefs, traditional philosophy, and traditional ethics of the time.
In 1997, the Ancient City of Pingyao was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in 2015, was rated a national 5A tourist attraction.
Address: Pingyao county, Jinzhong city, Shanxi province