Perfect examples of Ming Dynasty architecture, these 13 story Pagodas are home to a rare collection of steles from ancient Chinese calligraphers Wang Xizhi (303-361), Yan Zhenqing (709-785), Liu Zongyuan (773-819), and Su Dongpo (1037-1101). Visitors to the temple are welcome to ascend the stairs to the 53 meter (150 feet) pinnacle and take in views of the surroundings. The temple is made entirely of brick and stone and was ordered built by Emperor Wan Li in 1608. The best time to visit the Twin Pagoda Temple (Shuang Ta Si) is..
Looking a little stranded without the temple it once protected from evil spirits, the Nine Dragon Screen still manages to impress on its own. The largest and oldest glazed screen in China today, this 600-year-old wonder, built for the Ming Dynasty's first Emperor, is a masterful example of Chinese fire-glazed tile work. Made from a total of 426 glazed tiles, the construction measures 45.5 meters in length and is over two meters tall. Cavorting in poses that look at once playful and menacing, the nine sinuous dragons..
Yet another ancient architectural marvel to add to Datong's already impressive list, the Wooden Pagoda's masterful wooden construction houses huge statues and frescoes. Built during the Liao Dynasty in 1056, this amazing structure stands over 67 meters tall and was built without a single nail. The octagonal structure has survived the worst weather and seven earthquakes where no others could, all thanks to an ingenious system where 54 seperate kinds of interlocking brackets join together a variety of mortises and..
If there is one sight that you should not miss while coming through Datong, it is the Yungang Caves. This masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001. The story behind the grottoes is an interesting one and begins in the Wei Dynasty. The first two Wei emperors, Tuoba Gui and Tuoba Si, were both Buddhists. However, the third emperor, Tuoba Tao, known as "Taiwu," was a Taoist, as was his Prime Minister Cui Hao and Hao’s teacher, Taoist monk Kou..
One of China's Five Sacred Mountains (Wu Yue), Heng Shan has been reverently scaled by emperors since Qin Shi Huang, the first ruler to unify China, set the precedent. Located between the Hebei Plain and the Great Wall, Heng Shan's strategic position led to it's being the scene of many an epic battle, but it's better known as a religious center, something it's been for over 2,000 years. As such, the mountain's many faces are host to temples, including the amazing Daoist Hanging Temple, along with numerous ancient sites including..
Definitely one of Pingyao's must-see attractions, the city's 6-kilometer-long (4 mi), 12-meter-high (40 ft), nearly 700-year-old city walls (gǔchéng qiáng, 古城墙) stand as one of the longest and best-preserved sets of city walls in the world. Visitors walking its ramparts enjoy spectacular vantages over the city's ancient architecture, mostly unchanged in the last 300-some years. Walking over the walls' stamped bricks you'll come across thousands of crenulations (openings through which to fire..
Jin Temple (Jìn Cí, 晉祠), also called Jinci Temple, is an important temple complex located outside of town at the foot of Xuanweng Mountain (Xuánwèng Shān, 悬瓮山) founded by the Jin family during the Northern Wei Dynasty. One of the most notable buildings is the Mother Goddess Hall (Shèngmǔ Diàn, 圣母殿), also translated as the Holy Mother Hall, which was built in 1023 during the Northern Song Dynasty (and later reconstructed in 1102). The hall has beautiful statues clay of the Mother Goddess..
Taiyuan has long been a coal town (at least as far back as the 10th century). The Coal Museum of China (Zhōngguó Méitàn Bówùguǎn, 中国煤炭博物馆) explores the development of coal mining from its ancient history into modern times. Historical relics, interactive exhibits, paintings and a life-size recreation of a coal mine tell the story of what still remains an important industry in Shanxi Province. Photo by DukeAnt (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons