Pingyao is an ancient city in central Shanxi Province, China. It was the financial center of China during the Qing Dynasty. Pingyao follows the typical baqua pattern, is well preserved with a city layout that dates back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The cityscape has also retained its historical appearance.
Pingyao was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site during the 21st session of the World Heritage Committee in Naples, Italy, on 1-6 December, 1997.
During its heyday, Pingyao has 20 financial centres, or banks, half of all that is available in China. This includes the Rishengchang, said to be the first bank in China.
The city walls of Pingyao were put up by the Hongwu Emperor in 1370. It has six barbican gates. With one gate on the north and one to the south, and two each on the east and west, Pingyao looks like a turtle, hence its moniker, Turtle City.
The walls were further defended by a 4-meter wide moat. There were 72 watchtowers and 3,000 battlements.
Like many major tourist attractions of China, Pingyao suffers from the pressure of controlling the number of tourists visiting it, which can reach three times the maximum daily capacity.
Photos of Ancient City of Ping Yao
Street scene, Pingyao, China
Author: Benzh (public domain)
Medieval city wall of Pingyao
Author: Peellden (public domain)
Pingyao city tower
Author: Peellden (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Old city wall of Pingyao
Author: Mätes (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)
World Heritage Site Inscription Details
Location: N 37 12 05 E 112 09 16 in Ping Yao County, Shanxi Province, China
Inscription Year: 1997
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: II, III, IV
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Visiting Ancient City of Ping Yao
Your base for visiting Pingyao is the city of Taiyuan, which gets flights from major cities in China. From Taiyuan, Pingyao is still two hours away by train.
Pingyao is best explored on foot.