Old Town of Pingyao

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Old Town of Pingyao
Old Town of Pingyao

Pingyao (平遥古城) is a small town in central Shanxi Province whose history goes back 2,700 years, when it was first built during the reign of King Xuan (827-782 BC) of the Western Zhou Dynasty. Until this very day, the town looks much the same as when it was the county seat of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The city wall stretches for about six kilometers. The town is protected by a city moat, both three meters deep and wide. Outside the city gate is a drawbridge. Within the city, four big streets and eight small streets radiate to join with 72 lanes. The 3,797 marc manoff original quadrangle residential houses are all of the same black-colored bricks and gray-colored tiles. Out of the total, over 400 of these courtyard houses are still well preserved. There are also temples of varying size and old-fashioned stores.

Pingyao boasts plenty of cultural relics. Outside the town are the well-preserved Shuanglin Temple, built in 571, Xiaoxu Temple, built in 657, Thousand-Buddha Hall of Zhengguo Temple and Dacheng Hall of the Wenmiao Temple, built in 963, and the Huiji Bridge, built in 1671.

The old town of Pingyao went on the list of world cultural heritage in 1997.

The local customs and cultural heritage of the ancient town of Pingyao is under threat due to the rapid development of tourism.

In the 17 years since the 2,700-year-old town was added to UNESCO's World Heritage List, it has seen tourism develop at a meteoric pace, with its tourism revenue growing from 12.5 million yuan (2.04 million U.S. dollars) in 1997 to 5.416 billion yuan in 2013.