2013-11-13 Ada Tours PingYao 1213
"The Ancient City of Pingyao is an outstanding example of a Han Chinese city of the Ming and Qing Dynasties that has retained all its features to an exceptional degree, and in doing so provides a remarkably complete picture of cultural, social, economic, and religious development during one of the most seminal periods of Chinese history." - World Relics Committee of UNESCO.
As a tiny ancient city covering about 2km across, Pingyao boasts a history of over 2,700 years. With its exceptionally well-preserved traditional Han Chinese city style founded in the 14th century, Pingyao opens up to the outside world and more and more people have come to have a look at this old city representing the prosperous past of Shanxi during the Ming and Qing eras. Due to its sound preservation of the urban landscape in China's Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, Pingyao was added to the UNESCO's World Heritage List on December 31st, 1997.
Founded in the 14th century and covering an area of 225 hectares, the Ancient City of Ping Yao is an outstanding example of Han cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties (from the 14th to 20th century). The main attraction in Pingyao's walled city is the city itself. Simply wander the streets. Nearly every building dates from the Ming or Qing Dynasties. The car-free status and ancient street plan adds to the strong atmosphere. With more than 2,000 existing painted sculptures made in the Ming and Qing dynasties, Shuanglin Temple has been reputed as an “oriental art gallery of painted sculptures”. Wanfo Shrine, the main shrine of Zhenguo Temple, dating back to the Five Dynasties, is one of China’s earliest and most precious timber structure buildings in existence. Apart from those, city wall and temple of the City God are also pinup places among the visitors.
The magnificent wall has been standing there for 600 years through the flames of war and natural weathering. Glints and flashes of swords and spears, and flames and explosions of war all have become things of history. It is often said that the city wall is shaped like a tortoise--a traditional Chinese symbol of longevity--with the south gate and north gate representing the head and tail respectively.
The military function of the strong and high city wall has become redundant. Now the old wall presents to later generations a reminder of the changing dynasties and the events that occurred in the past three thousand years.
Temple of the City God
While the yamen ruled the "yang" of the human world, the Temple of the City God ("Chenghuang Miao") ruled the "yin" of the spiritual world. The main hall of the Temple is still very much in its original state and is clearly still in regular use.Elsewhere in the Temple visitors will also see a re-creation of heaven and hell, with every manner of torture shown in hell, from being cut to bits and being boiled to death, with happy families painted on the walls of heaven above.
Unlike most City God temples, this one honors not just the City God but also the God of Wealth and the Kitchen God. The Temple of the City God was originally built in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1227) and has undergone two major renovations due to fire in 1544 and 1859.
Pingyao is attractive, however, increases in tourism will put pressure on the ancient walled city. No matter when you plan to visit here, remember to be gentle. She needs your appreciation, as well as your respect.