Pingyao old town is in central Shanxi province. It lies about 715 km from Beijing and 80 km from the provincial capital, Taiyuan. During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial center of China. It is now renowned for its well-preserved ancient city wall, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pingyao still retains its city layout from the Ming and Qing dynasties, conforming to a typical bagua pattern. More than 300 sites in or near the city have ancient ruins. Preserved Ming- and Qing-style residences number close to 4,000. The streets and storefronts still largely retain their historical appearance.
Ping Yao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Its urban fabric shows the evolution of architectural styles and town planning in Imperial China over five centuries. Of special interest are the imposing buildings associated with banking, for which Ping Yao was the major centre for the whole of China in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Ancient City of Ping Yao is an outstanding example of a Han Chinese city of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (14th-20th centuries) that has retained all its features to an exceptional degree and in doing so provides a remarkably complete picture of cultural, social, economic, and religious development during one of the most seminal periods of Chinese history.
In the Spring and Autumn Period, the county belonged to the kingdom of Jin. It was part of the kingdom of Zhao in the Warring States Period. In the Qin Dynasty, it was known as Pingtao. During the Han Dynasty, it was known as Zhongdu county. In 1986, the People's Republic of China designated Pingyao as one of the Chinese Historic and Cultural Cities. It became a World Heritage Site in 1997, included also the outlying Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple.
The city walls of Pingyao were constructed in the 3rd year of the Hongwu Emperor (1370). The walls have six barbican gates. The north and south sides have one gate each. The east and west sides have two gates each. This pattern is similar to that of a turtle (the head, tail, and four legs), earning Pingyao the moniker "Turtle City." 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. Aside from the four structured towers at the four corners, there are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements. In 2004, part of the southern walls collapsed but were reconstructed. However, the rest of the city walls are still largely intact and are considered among the best-preserved ancient city walls on this scale. This makes the city walls the centerpiece of the Heritage Site.
China tours inclusive of visiting Pingyao