Into the Courtyard
Pingyao (Chinese: 平遥; pinyin: Píngyáo) is a county in central Shanxi province, People’s Republic of China. It lies about 715 kilometres (444 mi) from Beijing and 80 kilometres (50 mi) from the provincial capital, Taiyuan. During the Qing Dynasty, Pingyao was a financial center of China. Its history dates back 2,700 years, and is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the known world. It is still inhabited by 50,000 residents and is 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.
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, including the outlying Zhenguo Temple and Shuanglin Temple.