Shanxi, a province processes many historic sites including Datong and Pinyao, is a place with Chinese gardening, architecture, sculpture, carving and other arts. TopChinaTravel would like to introduce some of the Best Places to visit in Shanxi, to help you find your way to explore the unspoiled beauty of this charming and mysterious area. Where to visit in Shanxi? Travel with us, just let us to be your guide and accompany with you to discover the charms between the mansions of the ancient merchant prince and ancient temples.
Yungang Grottoes (Datong)
It is said that Yungang Grottoes are the best preserved sites in China with 53 caves containing over 51,000 stone carvings of Buddha and Buddhist.
It has got a total number of 53 grottoes consisting of more than 51,000 Buddha statues and statuettes. The fusion of Buddhist religious symbolic art from central and south Asia with Chinese cultural tradition is the noted highlight of the site.
Yungang Grottoes have been quite successful in vividly illustrating the power and endurance of the Buddhist belief in China. It is a must see destination for you if you are the one who loves to explore the architectural brilliance of the world.
Hanging Temple (Datong)
Leaning on the precipitous mountain face and facing a deep valley, the temple was constructed in a unique way, which is the buildings are supported by sturdy wooden pillars inserted in holes cut in the mountain body. Seeing it from the distance you could find it hanging in the mid air miraculously, hence the name 'Hanging Temple'.
Tourists can walk upwards along the steep stone pathway to visit some 40 exquisite and unique halls in the temple. This is the special monastery in which you could find not only the elements of Buddhism but also Taoism and Confucianism. There are around 40 halls with 80 sculptures which are vividly carved from copper, iron, terracotta and stone in this temple. A visit to the Hanging Temple will be a happy adventure at the same time.
Nine Dragon Wall (Datong)
Being the oldest and largest glazed screen in China, though it has been standing over 600 years, yet it is still in a perfect condition today owing to its perfect architecture and craft work. Painted in different colors, these nine dragons are lively just like flying swiftly upward. The clearance among the dragons was filled with stones and float grasses. The bottom of the wall carved 41 groups of pictures of two dragons playing with the pearl.
With 426 glazed tiles fired specially in five different colors, the exquisite design of green wave at bottom is as sea, blue background as sky and white as clouds. The glazed nine dragons on the wall are expressing their varying movements vividly, rising out of the sea and chasing the mythical suns with the supernatural ability to control the forces of nature.
Huayan Monastery (Datong)
As another essential attraction in Datong, the complex of Huayan Monastery is located on the southwestern side of Datong City. It is the largest and best preserved monastery of the Liao Dynasty in existence in China.
There are the green bamboo forest and the old and strong pins inside and outside of the monastery. It gains the name because there is a cave called Huayan Cave at the south side of the temple.
There is no historical record about the year in which the monastery was built. Covering an area of 160,000 square meters, Huayan Monastery's construction acreage is 16,000 square meters.
Pingyao Ancient City (Pingyao)
It is the only ancient city in China completely reserved as it was hundreds of years ago without any modern architecture, but only the narrow street flanking with Chinese shops in old style and the road plated with the original stone.
Ancient City Wall is one of "Three Treasures" of Pingyao, the other two being Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple. This city wall enjoys the longest history compared with the others across China and remains almost intact.
The walls measure about 12 meters high, with a perimeter of 6,000 meters. A 4-meter wide, 4-meter deep moat can be found just outside the walls.
Ming Qing Street (Pingyao)
Ming Qing Street has undergone major restoration and its attractions now include hotels offering traditional brick-oven beds, restaurants serving Pingyao famous beef and shops hawking an astonishing array of art wares such as antiques, furniture, ancient coins, Chinese paintings, jade ware, lacquer ware and traditional folk clothing. In the old period, over 700 shops peppered this same street and several remain exactly as they have for centuries.
On this lively street, just shouting to be climbed, is the 18.5m high Town Tower – the tallest structure in town, where you'll want to catch the view of inundating tiled roofs of the entire city when you reach the top.
Qiao Courtyard (Pingyao)
It is not exaggerated that you will be go deeply into the once most prosperous merchant family by visiting Qiao Courtyard on your way to Pingyao Ancient Town. It was the home of a powerful trading family with significant commercial influence even beyond Shanxi, as they were in the trade sector, a nationwide business.
The compound is fortified behind a 10m high wall with battlements. The total amount of buildings was 60 courtyards, ten large courtyards, 19 courtyards, totaling 313 rooms. From the bird-eye view, the layout is in the shape of a Chinese character -double happiness and selected from mould of castle. Inside the close brick wall, each two courtyards are linked tightly and each two rooms are like fish scales and comb teeth. Six buildings are divided into two by corridors. There are numerous courtyards and gardens in courtyards.
Mt. Wutai (Taiyuan)
With Mount Emei in Sichuan, Mount Jiuhua in Anhui and Mount Putuo in Zhejiang, these four mountains are reputed as the "Four Sacred Mountains in Chinese Buddhism". It is a popular destination for people who are interested in Chinese Buddhism. Ranking as the top 10 resorts in China, Mount Wutai was listed as a member in the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 2009.
Mount Wutai is home to some of the oldest existent wooden buildings in China that have survived since the era of the Tang Dynasty (618–907). The architectural designs of these buildings have since been studied by leading sinologists and experts in traditional Chinese architecture, such as Nancy Steinhardt. Steinhardt classified these buildings according to the hall types featured in the Yingzao Fashi Chinese building manual written in the 12th century.
Jinci Temple (Taiyuan)
There are more than 10 ancient architectures in this temple. And the quiet environment, charming scenery, marvelous buildings, and the lively article statures make Jinci Temple become famous in the world for decades of years. It is a historic relic integrating gardening art, carving art and stele stones art.
All the buildings are in compact and strict structures of a temple in a sense, but it is also an imperial garden from another perspective. The cypresses grown in the Zhou Dynasty and pagoda trees of the Sui Dynasty (581-617) are still vigorous, lush and green. Despite the trials and hardships of thousands of years, their old branches form a crisscross network and are reputed with the restless the Nanlao Spring, wonderful portraits of the maids in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) as three matchless works in the Jinci Temple.