Tuesday, November 12th 2019

Ancient city of Ping Yao, China

Our first destination after couple of days in Beijing was the ancient city of Ping Yao or Pingyao, in Shanxi Province. We took an overnight train and arrived early in the morning at the Pingyao train station.

Pingyao train station

Ping Yao train station

On the way from the station to the old city i was a bit shocked by the way buildings and roads looked. I could not believe that we were actually in the postcard-view city of Ping Yao. Everything looked covered with some dark dust. But once we reached the walls and then entered the old town it was much closer to the pictures i saw before our trip.

Outside the walled city of Ping Yao

Outside the walled city of Ping Yao

When we entered the old city the impressions changed. Though everything was still dusty and looking a bit gloomy it was already film-like. The old street did not look real, but they were. Of course, there was a touch of a tourist destination but most of the houses looked worn, some dilapidated, in fact most of them looked real. The same way they  probably looked150 years ago.

Streets of Ping Yao

Streets of Ping Yao

Ping Yao is a city dating its history back over 2700 years. It is an outstanding sample of a Han Chinese city of the Ming and Qing Dynasties with its city walls, streets, dwelling houses, shops and temples preserved in their initial form.

in the heart of Ping Yao, Chhina

In the heart of Ping Yao, China

The city of Ping Yao, also known as the “Eight Diagrams City”, was designed & built according to typical Han Chinese requirements. The walled city is of distinct function and specific 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.

Map of Ping Yao

Map of Ping Yao

 Source of the map: Travel China Guide.com

The whole city is surrounded by walls. The city walls of Pingyao were constructed during Hongwu Emperor (1370). The walls have six barbican/outer fortification of a city or castle/ gates. The north and south sides have one gate each. The east and west sides have two gates each.

City walls in Ping Yao

City walls in Ping Yao

The walls are about12 meters high, with total length of about 6,000 meters. A 4-meter wide, 4-meter deep moat is outside the walls. Aside from the four structured towers at the four corners, there are also 72 watchtowers and more than 3,000 battlements.

Watch tower in Ping Yao

Watch tower in Ping Yao

city walls in Pingyao

Though the city is famous for its walls we decided to leave the walls for later and explore the city first.

Pingyao still retains its city layout from the Ming and Qing times. More than 300 sites in or near the city have ancient ruins. The number of preserved Ming- and Qing-style residences is about 4,000.

Streets in Ping Yao, China

Streets in Ping Yao, China

The streets and shops kept their historical appearance in many cases.

Shops, restaurants or guest houses are located in most of the houses within the old city. Guest houses are located in court yards behind restaurants. So to get inside one needs to enter a restaurant and then walk into a courtyard. Often reception is right in the restaurant.

Ancient building in Ping Yao

Ancient building in Ping Yao

 

Ancient buildings in Ping Yao

Ancient buildings in Ping Yao

Rumors go that the city did not have enough money to renovate the city and thus we are lucky now to see those old constructions.

ancient houses in Ping Yao China

 

Towers of the city of Ping Yao

Towers of the city of Ping Yao

As i am not a big fan of visiting every museum/temple/castle/etc we decided to explore the old city inside the historic walls.

Street were full of busy Chinese working and quite a number of tourists with cameras. The city is a postcard attraction so you will be surrounded by herds of equipped with cameras and guide books visitors.

Streets of Ping Yao

Streets of Ping Yao

Inner gates in Ping Yao

Inner gates in Ping Yao

We wanted to rent a bicycle but i guess my negotiation skills were not good enough. Actually rental people did not want to negotiate at all. And i refused to pay the price they were asking on principle. Don’t remember how much though.

When it was time to eat we left the touristic area and found a nice street shop with dumplings.

Dim SUm dumplings in Ping Yao

Dim Sum dumplings in Ping Yao

Many objects and people’s habits really look like they are 2 centuries  old. Very unusual feeling of being in 19th century when the calendar says it is actually 21st.

After late lunch we went to have some rest to be full of energy to explore the city at night. And did not regret.

The city of Ping Yao looks amazing at night. Actually it looks like from old films i used to watch about China. You feel the old spirit, you can smell history in the air. All the red lanterns we have seen during the day are lit. They create a very cosy atmosphere.

Ping Yao at night

Ping Yao at night

All the towers inside the walled city and on the walls are decorated with tiny strings of lights. After having dinner at a street stall with some Chinese people we bought some drinks and set off to ex

Lit towers in Ping Yao

Lit towers in Ping Yao

Closer to 10pm the streets started becoming deserted. We met on our way mostly Chinese people, no tourists. Shopkeepers closed their shops, fewer restaurants were working. We wandered a bit longer the film-like streets of Ping Yao, and went home to sleep. Images from old black&white films about China were rushing through my head when I was falling asleep.

Lasix

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3 Comments on “Ancient city of Ping Yao, China”

  1. Nice town! Great pics! I am thinking of going to China in September. I think i will visit Pingyao.

    1. Yes, Anna, you definitely should visit it. Very nice place, and really cool old styly guest houses.

  2. Cool place, would like to visit PingYao. really looks like from an old film

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