Pingyao Ancient Town is a typical example of a Chinese old county in Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911). The town provides a complete overview of the cultural, social and religious development of Chinese history.
The most outstanding 5 sites we wish to share with you in that area are Pingyao Ancient Town including Ancient City Wall of Pingyao, Ming-Qing Street, and Rishengchang Draft Bank as well as the famous Shuanglin Temple which is located not far from the town.
Let’s go and explore these historical and interesting places one by one, and surely you will be fond of this ancient town and its nearby surroundings after reading this article.
Pingyao Ancient Town is about 10 kilometers south of Taiyuan, the capital city of Shanxi province. It was first built in Western Zhou Dynasty and has a history of over 2,700 years. Now 30,000 people are still living in this town. Pingyao Ancient Town was honored by UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1997.
Pingyao Ancient Town has a mass of ancient relics and old buildings, the entire layout of the ancient architecture was designed scientifically. It has Four Large Streets, Eight Small Streets and Seventy-two Sinuous Lanes. Although the inside roads go across one another, the streets in different directions are easily distinguished.
Both sides of the streets are two-storey shops or pavilions with the well-refined names or brands, the rear sections of these structures are the ancient folk residences built in a courtyard style just like those often seen in Beijing’s Hutongs. Travelling to Pingyao, you can not only tour the ancient city, but also experience the ancient culture.
Enclosed by a 6000-meter-long ancient wall with six city gates, the Town was formed in a rectangular shape. The Ancient Wall is of compacted earth covered by bricks and stones, which resembles a tortoise when seeing from a bird eye view. Although there were repeated renovations to the Wall, it is still in a very good condition. Thus, the Ancient Wall is rated the highest as one of the “Three Treasures” of the ancient town.
Ming-Qing Ancient Street is actually the south street and located in the noisiest center of the Pingyao Ancient Town. It involves nearly all fields of commerce including finance, medicine, silk, clothing, calligraphy, paintings, food and general merchandise. The street which stretches only for a little over 750 meters, is unique in its concentration of as many as one hundred stores and local houses completely displayed in the style of the ancient Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Rishengchang Draft Bank, China’s first bank-like organization, is located on the prosperous west street of Pingyao Ancient Town. It was founded during the reign of the Daoguang Emperor, known as the“Top Commercial Street” in the Qing Dynasty, and was the first and largest draft bank operating remittance business in China.
Rishengchang Draft Bank kept running for over 100 years, it was the forerunner for organizing early finance system, handling remittance, money exchange, deposit, loan and other financial trade in ancient time of China. It is also the pioneer in China’s banking history and almost controlled China’s entire economy in the 1900s. Its branches had spread across 35 cities in China and its business had been expanded to Europe, the United States and many Southeast Asian countries.
The Shuanglin Temple, constructed in 571, has a history of about 1,400 years. The temple is reputed to be the 'Ancient Painted Sculptures Museum'. It houses more than 2,000 colorful sculptures reflecting the exquisite skills of the artisans of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Shuanglin Temple was also honored by UNESCO World Heritage List as an important cultural site of Pingyao in 1997.