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Pingyao : The city breathe with antiquity

Popularity 7Viewed 15746 times 2015-6-9 11:02 |Personal category:Travelling|System category:Others| antiquity, Pingyao, antiquity, Pingyao


The ancient city of Pingyao, as I have been twice there, greatly reminds me of outstanding example of Han cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties (from the 14th to 20th century). It was highly developing and was in a period of great prosperity in late Qing dynasty, with up to 22 exchange shops and became the financial center of the time. The business shops and traditional dwellings in the city are historical witnesses to the economic prosperity of the Ancient City of Pingyao in this period.

The first thing that caught my eye was the architecture. The Ancient City of Pingyao is a complete building complex including ancient walls, streets and lanes, shops, dwellings and temples. I was astonished to see the well-preserved ancient city. Its layout reflects perfectly the development in architectural style and urban planning of the Han cities over more than five centuries. The reason for my surprise was the city’s breathe with antiquity, all the information that reflects the cultural, social, economic and religious development in this period have been well preserved.

The city is an outstanding example of Han cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties, for instance, while walking on the streets you will repeatedly catch yourself imagining that you got into the 17th century somehow, many regular buildings in Pingyao are at least 2-3 centuries old. It retains all the Han city features, provides a complete picture of the cultural, social, economic and religious development in Chinese history, and it is of great value for studying the social form, economic structure, military defense, religious belief, traditional thinking, traditional ethics and dwelling form.

I got one of my first bright impressions about Pingyao almost immediately after my arrival, walking around the city center in the afternoon. The weather was bright and sunny. I went up the Pingyao city wall, from where I could see the complete view of the amazing Pingyao City. The streets and lanes, shops, dwellings and temples were seen very clearly, ancient and mysterious.

Except architecture, I must emphasize two other phenomenons that caught my attention in Pingyao City: the number of themed bars and restaurants, and extremely polite and affable people. As for the cafes, they can be safely considered a hallmark of the city. You can find many bars and massage parlors in Pingyao that would be make foreign tourist surprised. Most bars and restaurants are individually owned and have their own unique style and service. Not to say that they don't copy each other's good ideas.

The atmosphere of the street in Pingyao was cozy, though there were lots of tourists like me, dropping in simply to take a picture. My advice: if you want to enjoy a beautiful cityscape, climb to the roof of city wall at sunset; sitting there with a glass of wine and watching the sun roll behind ancient roofs was a remarkable experience for me. I experienced that in the Pingyao City the houses are the half covered, built into single slopes. The windows facing the street were not opened and this can effectively resist sandstorm and improve the safety.

People in Pingyao are friendly; you can always count on help, even if you don’t know Chinese. The people I’ve spoken to knew English quite well—knowledgeable enough to explain where I could go and what should I see. Even individuals who didn’t speak a word in English (mostly elder people) still tried to help me out, using gestures, loud articulation, and laughter, which was funny both for me and for them. Many townsmen smiled without any obvious reason. Though it was my second visit to Pingyao, I’ve experienced new and amazing feelings and would like to visit again and again.

(Writer: Akhil Parashar, Foreign Correspondent for China Radio International)

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(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Reply Report snowipine 2016-9-25 20:43
Visited there about ten years ago. It's really a good travel destination for those who want to have a glimps of ancient architecture and from it have a glance of the lifestyle of old times.
Reply Report Akhil_Parashar 2017-3-1 21:01
snowipine: Visited there about ten years ago. It's really a good travel destination for those who want to have a glimps of ancient architecture and from it have  ...
Yes... Definitely...!!!

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