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Taiyuan is the capital of Shanxi Province. It already became one of China"s earliest areas engaged in business in 292 A.D, called the "Jin Business Culture". Shanxi is known as the "kingdom of cooked wheaten food" because of its one thousand ways of cooking wheaten food. Main scenic spots: Ancient Pingyao City, Qiao Family Buildings and Jin Ancestral Temple.
Jinci Temple is situated at the foot of the Xuanweng Mountain to the southwest of Taiyuan. It is one of the most valuable historical relics under specialcontrol of the State. Jinci Temple was first built in the Bei Wei Dynasty (386-534) in memory of Shuyu, the second son of Zhouwu kingdom. The temple is famous for its garden of traditional buildings. It has many halls, pavilions, and towers. The Saintly Mother's Hall, built from 1023 to 1032 during the Song Dynasty, is the most fantastic and oldest structure left in Jinci Temple.
Twin Pogoda Temple
Twin Pogoda Temple, also called as Yongzuo Temple, was first built in 1608 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). There are two 53-meter-tall pagodas in the temple,so the got the name "Twin Pagoda Temple".The two pagodas of the Twin Pagoda Temple are the landmark of Taiyuan City. Each pagoda is an octagon in style with 13 stories as high as 55 meters. The Twin Pogoda Temple was built with gray bricks.
The Chongshan Monastery
Chongshan Monastery was first constructed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and is situated in the northeast of Taiyuan. The main hall is decorated with many scrolls and relics. It has a big statue of Guanyin, goddess of mercy. The Temple also hold scriptures and books with a long history.The monastery also boasts a rare collection of sutras written in the Song (960-1279 AD), Yuan (1271-1368 AD), Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1644-1911 AD) dynasties.
Mount Wutai is situated in Wutai County in Shanxi Province, about 120 kilometers north of Taiyuan. It comprises of five platform-shaped hills, regarded as the "roof of North China." It is cold and the some peaks are snow-capped all year round. The hills are densely forested.
Legend goes that a Manjusri ( bodhisattva of Wisdom ) travelled this mountain and decided to settle down. It is the most noted Budhist mountain of the four holy mountains in China(the others are Mt.Emei in Sichuan Province, Mt.Jiuhua in Anhui Province, and Mt.Putuo in Zhejiang Province). Mt.Wutai attract pilgrims from all over China and other foreign countries for paying homage. During its heyday in Tang Dyansty, there were over 360 monasteries and shrines accommodating over two thousand monks and nuns. There are now 40 active temples with over a hundred monks and nuns.
Pingyao is a small town in central Shanxi Province,near Taiyuan. Pingyao boasts plenty of cultural relics. The city wall was first built during the Zhou Dynasty (11th century - 256 B.C.) and was expanded in 1370, the third year of the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu. Since 1997, it has been listed as a World Heritage Site. Situated on the trade route between Beijing and Xi'an, Pingyao developed into a business center with the use of the nation's earliest banks. These iorganizations were the first in China to use checks, and business came up in the 19th Century, when the city was the financial center of the Qing government.
The Ancient Ming and Qing Streets
Pingyao is well known for its lanes and narrow streets ith a long history. The city's main attraction is Ming and Qing Street, also called Nanda Jie. It is one of the busy and interesting streets in which to experience ancient Chinese culture. It is 440 long, Ming and Qing Street used to be the commercial center of Pingyao ancient city.
City Wall of Pingyao
Pingyao City Wall was first constructed in Xizhou Xuanwang period (827-728BC) when General Yinjipu had it established with mud to protest the city against outside invaders. Later several Reparations were made in each dynasties. In the year 1370, it was widened greatly with much stones and bricks. The City Wall was complete and well defended with 6.4km long. It is square with the southern section a little round and the other three sections straight. Made of bricks and mud, the ancient wall is 10 meters in length and 5 meters in width. There are totally 72 towers and 3000 crenels. Pingyao City Wall is regarded as "Tortoise City" from the past times and is also regarded as " the First City in North China" by some experts. It is now one of the cutural reolics under the State protection.
The Rishengchang Exchange Shop
The Rishengchang Exchange Shop is the earliest bank in China, first opened in the 18th century.Rishengchang was the first money exchange shop in the history of China. It was first set up in 1823 Qing Dynasty with head-office in the county of Pingyao and the first boss was Li Daquan.The first manager of Rishengchang was Lei Lvtai, a gifted and professional person in management. He was the most noted person at that time.
The Chinese Bodyguard Office in Pingyao
The Bodyguard Office is named “Biao Ju” in Chinese, which is an establishment providing escorts for a fee in old times. In old times, the commerce need the protection from the Bodyguard office, so the flourish of commerce in Pingyao results in the development of Bodyguard office.
Pingyao Ancient Yamun
Yamun is the local administration department. Pingyao Yamun is one of the best preserved. Along the axis from south to north are the Entrance Door, Yi Gate, Torn, Liubufang, Grand Hall, Gate, Ertang, Inner House, etc. Grand Hall is the place that ancient officer held grand ceremony and cognizance serious cases. Ever architecture carved couplet which were written by the officer themselves to prize themselves.
The Qiao Family Courtyard
It was the courtyard of a rich family in the late 1700s and now still is well preserved. It became famous due to Zhang Yimou's film "Raise the Red Lantern" which used the whole courtyard as its background in the film. The courtyard occupies an area of 8,000 square metres and has six main courtyards and 19 small ones, with totally 313 rooms. From Apavilion on the south-western corner has a overlooking view over the entire courtyard. From this high point it becomes clear that the courtyard is laid out in the outline of the Chinese character Xi (happiness).
The Wang Family Courtyard
The Grand Courtyard of the Wangs is the largest-existing folk residence compound in China and a symbol of the business family's living place in North China's Shanxi Province, showing the example of Chinese architectural art and cultural relics. It is located only 35 km from the Ancient City of Pingyao, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage place. This huge courtyard covers an area of about 45,000 square meters with over 100 compounds and 1,118 rooms and took about half a century (1762-1811) for construction.
Pingyao Chang's Mansion
Chang’s Mansion is the private manor of Chang family. The tall gateway faces the east, surrounded by a river outside, the white stone arch bridge set up at the entrance of the gate. A flagstone against the gate is stretching from east to west. The repaired houses rank in rows. A 100-acres garden corresponds with the houses. It was said that one courtyard of Qiao family is equal to two streets of Chang family. The constructing scale of Chang family is the first of its kinds in Shanxi province.
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