Taiyuan Tourist Attractions
Capital of Shanxi ProvinceThere were settlements in this region back in Neolithic times. The town was founded about 2400 years ago, under the name of Jinyang.
It found itself under constant attack from tribes from the north who used it as a base for further conquering sorties. In the early 7th C Li Yuan led a peasants' uprising, overturned the Sui dynasty and in 618 established the Tang dynasty. Wars brought about the destruction of Jinyang in 979. It was rebuilt three years later and renamed Songcheng. In 1375 the town expanded enormously, became the seat of government for the Taiyuan region from which it took its name. The viceroys of Shanxi province resided here during the Ming period (1368-1644). The ''White Lotus'' secret society, which had been in existence since the 11th C, supported the xenophobic movement which led to the outbreak of the Boxer Rebellion.Today Taiyuan is not only the political and cultural focus of Shanxi province but also one of northern China's major industrial centers.
Located in the east of the city, the Provincial Museum is housed in a former Jin (1115-1234) temple; on display are finds from the Neolithic Age, as well as bronzes, lacquer-work and paintings from various dynasties.Another department of the museum can be found in the Chungjang Gong Palace to the west.
Temple of Respect for Kindness
The Temple of Respect for Kindness opposite the Provincial Museum dates from the Tang era (618-907). In 1381 Zhu Gang, the third son of the emperor of the day, ordered that it be completely rebuilt in honor of his mother, the empress. From the same period are the three Buddha statues, each 8.5m/28ft high, of Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy (with a thousand arms, a thousand eyes and eleven faces) and of the bodhisattvas Wenshu and Puxian, which are to be found in the Hall of Great Compassion (Dabei Dian). The temple also contains large numbers of Buddhist scriptures from the Song, Yuan and Ming period (10th-17th C).
Temple of the Double Pagodas
The Temple of the Double Pagodas in the southeast of Taiyuan was so named because of its two pagodas, each 54m/177ft high, which serve as the city's emblem.A winding internal staircase enables visitors to climb up to the 13th floor of either pagoda, from where they can enjoy a superb view over the city.
There are many notable attractions in the Taiyuan surrounding area.
The Temple of Jinci was established around the early 7th C and has expanded over the years. The complex today includes approximately 100 structures.
Mount Wutaishan, a holy Buddhist mountain, is home to some 58 monasteries. There have been monasteries on the mountain since the Eastern Han period in the 1st to 3rd C.
The 13th C Monastery of Eternal Joy is famous for its beautiful and extensive wall paintings. It was also the birthplace of Taoist Lü Donghin.
Temple of the Two Forests
This temple 7km/4.5mi southwest of Pingyao covers an area of some 1.5ha/4.25acres; founded in 571, it was rebuilt during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). There are three courtyards around which are grouped ten temple halls. Its 2052 clay sculptures make it a truly representative museum of the Buddhist sculptor's art.
Medieval Town of Pingyao
The little town of Pingyao, 107km/66mi south of Taiyuan, is only 2.1sq.km/.75sq.mi in area, and has succeeded in retaining its medieval appearance and atmosphere for more than 600 years. Its defensive walls, streets, houses and temple buildings are for the most part well-preserved. The town walls are 6157m/18,471ft in length, 6-10m/20-33ft high, defended by six gate-towers, 72 small watch-towers and 3000 merlons which represent the most famous disciples of Confucius and his 3000 pupils.
Temple of the Great Victory
The Temple of the Great Victory, 200km/124mi southwest of Taiyuan near the town of Hongtong, includes the well-known Pagoda of the Flying Rainbow (Feihong Ta). This originally dated from the year 147, but was destroyed together with all the other temple buildings in a heavy earthquake in 1303. Between 1515 and 1527 a new pagoda - 47m/154ft high, octagonal in shape, with three stories, and clad with glazed bricks colored red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet - was erected on the old foundations. Visitors who climb the internal staircase can admire the richly-decorated walls.
Caves on Mount Longshan
The Taoist caves on Mount Longshan, 20km/12.5mi southwest of Taiyuan, date from the Yuan period (1271-1368). They contain more than 40 sculptures and inscriptions.
Some 60km/37mi southwest of Taiyuan, in the Jiaocheng district, a Buddhist temple dating from 472 has been built on a steep rock-face - hence its name. It is the Shrine of the Denomination of the Land of the Pure (Jingtuzong). In the second half of the 19th C it was almost completely burned down; only the Pavilion of a Thousand Buddhas (Qianfo Ge) remained intact. The edifice was restored to its former glory when it was rebuilt in 1955, and it is now home to more than 70 sculptures in wood, clay and wrought-iron.The Hall of the Heavenly Kings (Tianwang Dian) dates from 1605 and is the oldest building in the complex.
Village of the Apricot Blossom
The village of Xinghuacun, 105km/65mi southwest of Taiyuan, is known worldwide for its Fen Jiu, distilled from corn, using pure water from the Heavenly Spring (Shenjing). Such spirits have been produced in Xinghuacun for 1500 years and still make an important contribution to its economy.
Map of Taiyuan Attractions