Ping Yao is an ancient city with a history of over 2700 years, located in the middle part of Shanxi Province, China. It is an outstanding example of a Han Chinese city of the Ming and Qing Dynasties with its city walls, streets, dwelling houses, shops and temples that have retained all the features to an exceptional degree. Also, many traditions are still preserved by the people living in Ping Yao.
The ancient city of Ping Yao, also known as the “Eight Diagrams City”, is designed and built according to typical Han Chinese prescriptions. The enclosed city is of distinct function and proper layout. Four avenues, eight streets and seventy-two lanes crisscross one another with the county administrative offices at the center of the city. The South Avenue and the West Avenue are the most famous roads in Ping Yao.
The city walls that were made of black bricks have stood against rains and storms for over 600 years and been well preserved. Now it has become a symbol of the city. The circuit of walls measures 6 km in length with 3000 battlements and 72 massive bastions, which stand for Confucius’s 3000 disciples and 72 sages.
Ping Yao enjoys the distinction of its folk residence. The private houses are built round four sides of an open courtyard, in black bricks and gray tiles, symmetrical and rectilinear. The buildings with an underground structure surmounted by a wooden second storey are in particular of strong flavor of rural life. Now, the city possesses 3797 courtyard dwellings, in which more than 400 are preserved to an exceptional extent.
The ancient city of Ping Yao also enjoys the fame of “a gallery and treasure house of Chinese ancient architectures”. There are many precious historic and cultural sites such as Zhenguo Temple, the most precious reference for wooden structure architectures in China; Shuanglin Temple, a treasure house of ancient painted statues; Qingxu Taoist Temple, noteworthy for the rare constructional techniques used, that is, a system of suspension beams and pendant columns as well as the Rishengchang Draft Bank with a reputation of “The First Bank under Heaven”.
The Ancient City of Ping Yao was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1997.