On your China tourism, if you want to visit an example of an ancient city with a long history, one option is to visit Pingyao. It is a small medieval city founded in 1300 which maintains an environment that suggests what China was like at the time of Marco Polo.
Surrounded by a wall, Pingyao is one of the best-preserved historical places to visit in China whose origins of its old quarter date back 2700 years, and which has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Pingyao is located halfway between Beijing and Xian, north of the central province of Shanxi, at least 100 kilometers from Taiyuan, capital of the province.
Pingyao maintains much of its medieval buildings, from the times of the Ming and Qing dynasty, distributed by its main Ming-Qing Street and the surrounding streets.
Pingyao medieval wall:
The medieval wall of Pingyao has a square shape and a perimeter of six kilometers. Of its large dimensions and robustness, the information is that it is 12 meters high and 4 meters wide, with six doors and up to 72 watchtowers and 3,000 battlements.
It is considered as the main one known as "Three Treasures" of Pingyao.
The first vestiges of the wall date back to the eleventh century, although it was during the Ming dynasty, between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries, when for defensive reasons it was finished building and closing.
It is undoubtedly the main historical attraction of the city, because after its construction on the vestiges of the ancient city of Pingyao, although it has subsequently had some, it currently maintains the original configuration.
Ming-Qing in Pingyao:
The aforementioned Ming-Qing Street has a north-south orientation and divides the old city into two parts of the walled enclosure.
In the center of the street, and therefore of the city, is the Market Tower, with three floors and 18 meters high. This tower that is crossed below by the street layout is the tallest building in the city.
While it is known that it was rebuilt in 1688, during the Qing dynasty, there is no exact knowledge of when it was originally erected.
On the walk along the Ming-Qing Street of Pingyao, named because its history has developed during both Chinese dynasties, you can see a succession of houses with their traditional courtyards.
These buildings maintain the medieval era configuration, with the Ming and Qing architectural styles with wood and stone finishes.
On the main street of Pingyao, and those that surround it, there are numerous shops of all kinds, which are a reflection of the flourishing commercial activity that this medieval Chinese city has historically had.
Specifically, in it you can visit the Rishengchang, which is considered the first bank in China. But most of the traditional shops on Ming-Qing Street have been converted into restaurants, small museums and, above all, tourist and imitation shops.
Apart from walking through the streets of this medieval city, on your trip to Pingyao you can visit some historic buildings,
It is the case of the House of the Quiao Family, of 1756, or the Temples of Zhengou and Shuanglin, near the city and that, together with the medieval wall, form the so-called "Three Treasures" of Pingyao.
The House of the Xiao Family is located 40 kilometers north of the medieval city and is famous for being a beautiful example of typical Chinese architecture, with decorative elements of great interest and for the sculptures that can be seen during the visit.
Buddhist temples in Pingyao:
The Shuanglin Temple is located in the village of Qiaotou, just six kilometers from Pingyao, and originally dates back to 500 years.
This Buddhist tempo is part of the cultural heritage that incorporates the declaration of World Heritage by UNESCO for Pingyao, and has acquired fame as a "museum of painted sculptures", as it brings together more than two thousand sculptures.
The other prominent Buddhist temple to visit in and around Pingyao is the Zhenguo Temple, which is located 12 kilometers northeast of Pingyao.
The temple occupies an area of 11,000 square meters, and was built in 963. The Zhenguo Temple was remodeled in 1816, during the Qing dynasty. In its front part, next to the great hall of entrance to the temple, you will see a bell tower and a drum tower to the other.
On its back, there are two mausoleums, and it is also famous for its colored sculptures.
How to get to Pingyao?
To travel to Pingyao, you must arrive by plane to the capital of the province, Taiyuan, and from there, by bus or train, take the route that separates both cities.
The usual mode of transport in Pingyao is the Thai- style rickshaw taxi- powered motorbike (different from the tricycle used in the Beijing Tours).
If you decide to travel to Pingyao, a city that attracts more and more tourists, we anticipate that it is a city that has a sufficient supply of hotels where you can stay.